1st batch of OFWs from Iraq back today

January 12, 2020

FOURTEEN overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) pulled from Iraq are expected to arrive in Manila today, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana explained that due to logistical concerns, the first batch of evacuees could not be brought from Iraq directly to the Philippines.

They were first brought to Doha, Qatar and will be flown to Manila.

Lorenzana said according to  special envoy to the Middle East and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, the flight bringing the OFWs will depart Doha on Sunday and arrive in Manila today.

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said that there are 200,000 OFWs in the Middle East.

In Lebanon, at least a thousand OFWs had sought repatriation due to the recent tension between Iran and the US.

Last week Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced that the repatriation of Filipinos in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon is mandatory.  

However he later announced evacuation was no longer mandatory for the OFWs after the situation in the region eased.

Tension in the Middle East started following the death of Iran top commander Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike perpetrated by the United States in Baghdad.

Consequently, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday urged Filipinos in the Middle East to consider going back to the country, as the possibility of a full-blown, US-Iran war looms.

AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo warned that repatriation process will be harder when war has erupted.