OFWs returning from Libya now near 1,000
Returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from strife-torn Libya are nearing the 1,000 mark as the initially slow evacuation and rescue operations of the government shift to high gear.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) already assisted 624 out of the 752 OFWs repatriated since June 11 while the rest were directly sent home by their foreign employers.
For the next three days, 60 more repatriates are expected to arrive home in four batches via Qatar Airways and Emirates flights.
“We have the master list of the names of the new repatriates” and they would get favored treatment at the airport, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
DOLE has beefed up its contingency teams for the mandatory repatriation of OFWs caught in the highly volatile security situation in the oil-producing country.
The situation in Libya has been unstable since the fall of its leader Muammar Gaddhafi in 2011.
A component of the National Reintegration Program for OFWs, DOLE’s assistance program, provides welfare, employment, livelihood, and legal services to the returning OFWs.
On welfare assistance, the DOLE, through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), provides temporary shelter and accommodation, transportation, medical assistance, and stress debriefing upon arrival at the airport.
DOLE’s attached agencies, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), provide employment assistance in job placement/referral for both local and overseas employment as well as competency assessment and certification for the repatriates.
Under the livelihood assistance, the agency has entrepreneurial development, livelihood skills training and business loan assistance for OFWs.
“We wanted to be able to effectively convey to all OFWs, especially to those forced to leave their jobs abroad for reasons not of their own making, that the government is prepared to welcome them in their own country and is ready to address their welfare, employment, livelihood, and legal needs after they arrive,” Baldoz said.