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Over 325K Overseas Filipino Workers Repatriated In 2020

Submitted by kgnadmin on

MANILA (Jan 4, 2021) - In a press release the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) capped its repatriation efforts in 2020 by bringing home 327,511 overseas Filipinos workers, coming from at least 90 countries around the world. The DFA said that 29.3 percent of the overseas Filipinos workers, or 95,974 in total, are seafarers from more than 150 cruise ships, oil tankers, and other bulk vessels.

Since February 9, 2020 - the day when the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs mounted its first Covid-19 repatriation flight to Wuhan, China -- the department has been relentless in bringing home Filipino workers despite the challenges it faced.

in February, a three-person rapid response team flew to Japan to assist the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo in the disembarkation and repatriation of Filipino crew on board the Covid-19 stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.

This marked the beginning of the pandemic’s immediate impact on the cruise line industry where thousands of Filipino seafarers were working.

When countries started to close their borders in March, the tourism industry was at a standstill and the cruise lines were forced to suspend their voyages. During this time many crew members were stuck on the cruise ships waiting for their turn to return home. 

From March to June 2020, the DFA facilitated the daily arrival of chartered flights -- each carrying hundreds of seafarers from cruise ships docked all over Europe, North America, and the Caribbean.

Many of the repatriated seafarers have only been on board their ships for months when the pandemic struck. They had no choice but to come home, without certainty as to when they will be called back again for work.

In April, the DFA chartered flights to Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives, and Italy to bring home 1,096 distressed overseas Filipinos who lost their jobs and had no means to come home from those countries.

Calls for repatriation from the Middle East came in May 2020 as the DFA sent its first sweeper flight to the Middle East, via Riyadh and Dammam, Saudi Arabia. This marked the beginning of the mass repatriation of more than 220,000 overseas Filipinos from the region.

In June 2020, the DFA sent a sweeper flight to Africa which stopped by Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya before heading home to the Philippines with 287 distressed overseas Filipinos on board.

The DFA, in coordination with its missions abroad, lobbied hard with the Djibouti representatives in the International Maritime Organization in London, the United Nations in New York, and the Djibouti Embassy in Tokyo to allow the disembarkation of the Filipino crew of MV Arybbas on humanitarian grounds.

They arrived safely in Manila last November after being stranded on board their vessel for more than 14 months.

December marked the highest monthly total of repatriated overseas Filipinos at 51,770 despite the cancellation of several flights as a precautionary measure to the spread of the new Covid-19 strain.

Sweeper flights were also organized to bring home distressed overseas Filipinos from Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, in time for the holiday season.

“While these are some of the highlights of the DFA’s repatriation efforts for this year, let us not forget the tireless dedication of our DFA front-liners who facilitated the return and provided airport assistance to hundreds of medical repatriates, victims of trafficking-in-persons, unaccompanied minor children, and senior citizens who were repatriated by the DFA this 2020.” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said.