OFWs stranded Manila Philippines
Filipino workers make up a significant proportion of the expat population in Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: More than 23,000 Filipino workers are now displaced in Saudi Arabia, including some who were seen on video scavenging for food at a supermarket, the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) reported.

“We have actually recorded 26,000 but we have already sent home 2,700 of them through special and chartered flights. As of now, there are 5,090 who have exit visas,” said Riyadh-based labour attaché Nasser Mustafa in a virtual interview before the weekend.

Among the 23,000 displaced workers, Mustafa said, are the 400 workers of an aluminium company, a few of whom were seen on video looking for food at the supermarket.

He added that the POLO is negotiating to repatriate 200 of these workers as the others opted to stay in Saudi and look for jobs in other companies.

“Only 200 OFWs expressed their desire to return home. Their employer is offering a job, but they don’t want to work with the company anymore,” Mustafa noted.

While the displaced workers are being provided with food allowance, he said this is not enough. The food distribution, he added, was also stopped after 16 of their personnel got infected with COVID-19.

Mustafa said they have provided food assistance to about a thousand displaced OFWs as well as cash assistance to over 3,000.