OWWA, DOLE urged to give livelihood aid to displaced Filipinos from Sudan
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Wednesday urged the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to provide displaced Filipinos from war-stricken Sudan with alternative sources of livelihood.
Estrada, chair of the Senate committee on labor and employment, said the government bodies should brace for the return of hundreds of Sudan-based migrant workers – some of them undocumented.
“Asahan natin na karamihan ng mga overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) na napilitang umuwi ng wala sa oras dahil sa tumitinding kaguluhan sa Sudan ay walang ipon,” he said in a statement.
(We expect that most of the OFWs who were forced to come home at an unexpected time due to the worsening conflict in Sudan have no savings.)
Noting that it may take time for the repatriated OFWs to find another job abroad, Estrada said the Philippine government should extend assistance to them in the meantime.
According to the senator, there is a P431-million budget lodged under the Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay program of the OWWA this year.
Estrada noted that active and non-active OWWA members can receive up to P20,00 capital for their startups or the expansion of their existing businesses under the Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay program.
“May programa ang gobyerno na makatutulong sa mga kagaya nila na nawalan ng trabaho sa ibang bansa at mainam na mabigyan sila ng ng ganitong klaseng ayuda nang sa gayon ay patuloy nilang matustusan ang gastusin ng kanilang pamilya. Sa ganitong paraan, hindi sila daragdag sa bilang ng mga unemployed nating mga kababayan,” he said,
(The government has such a program to help people like them who lost their jobs abroad and it would be better to give them this form of assistance so they can continue providing for their families. In this way, they won’t add to the number of unemployed Filipinos in the country.)
At least 350 Filipinos have started evacuating strife-torn Sudan through government-mediated land transportation, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
But DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Affairs Eduardo de Vega told INQUIRER.net that there is a bottleneck of foreign nationals, including Filipinos, in the Sudan-Egypt border due to the lengthy processing that could take more than 24 hours.
Some of the evacuees seeking refuge in Egypt have no visas or passports with them, which could be causing the delays, de Vega explained.
He said the Philippine Embassy in Cairo is already working on facilitating the entry of the Filipino evacuees.
Many nations, including the Philippines, are rushing to extract their citizens from Sudan as warring military and paramilitary forces in Khartoum have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire, which began Tuesday, April 25.
A Reuters report, however, earlier cited United Nations special envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes who said the temporary pause in fighting was only partly holding as clashes have since flared up anew.