Nearly 100,000 OFWs stranded abroad due to pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Sunday said the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in various parts of the world has swelled to nearly 100,000.
Citing reports from the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in 40 foreign posts, the Dole command center in Manila recorded a total of 98,615 stranded workers as of May 29.
“The OFWs are either affected by lockdowns in their respective host countries — those distressed seeking to be repatriated or those whose work contracts have expired but cannot return to the Philippines due to the absence of commercial flights,” the Dole said in a statement.
It added that majority of the stranded OFWs are in the Middle East (83,483), followed by those in Europe and Americas (12,050) and in Asian countries (3,082).
Most OFWs from the Middle East and Asian countries are land-based workers, while those in Europe-Americas are mostly sea-based workers.
Of the total stranded OFWs, about 19,631 have unfinished contracts or distressed needing repatriation in the coming weeks, more than 11,000 of whom would be coming from the Middle East, while close to 6,500 are in Europe and the Americas.
The labor department said Polos had so far recorded the repatriation of 36,625 OFWs since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
Meanwhile, the DOLE has provided cash, food and medical assistance to 81,388 overseas Filipino workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in various locations across the globe.
Aside from the one-time $200 cash assistance given to OFWs under the AKAP program, the DOLE likewise distributed food packs, masks and medicines through the Polos in 40 foreign posts.
On top of the food and medical assistance, OFWs who were found positive with coronavirus were likewise given $200 cash assistance by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
“To date 2,077 COVID positive OFWs onsite received the cash assistance of whom 1,937 are land-based and 140 are sea-based OFWs. Lebanon registered the most number of COVID-19 positive beneficiaries at 1,104,” Dole said.
The labor department also reported that all of the more than 24,000 OFWs who were virtually locked up in various quarantine facilities would have been transported to their provinces by Sunday.
According to DOLE, the OWWA had so far spent over P700 million for the repatriation, transport, accommodation and food of the returning OFWs.
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