GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 29 Apr) – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Region 12 has released some P950,000 in financial assistance since last year to overseas workers from the area who were repatriated by the national government from Libya.
Marilou Sumalinog, OWWA Region 12 director, said Wednesday a total of 95 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from various parts of the region have so far returned home after availing of the government’s mandatory repatriation program for workers deployed in the conflict-torn Middle Eastern state.
She said the repatriated workers were mostly documented and active OWWA members, and listed in the agency’s database of OFWs employed in Libya.
The Department of Foreign Affairs ordered the mandatory evacuation of OFWs in Libya starting July 20 last year after raising the area’s situation to alert level 4 in response to its “extremely unstable political and security situation.”
“Eighty-five of these workers were repatriated from July to December while the rest were from January to March this year,” Sumalinog said in a press conference.
The official said the repatriates received one-time grants of P10,000 each as set under the agency’s Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Livelihood and Legal) program.
Assist WELL program provides comprehensive reintegration services for repatriated OFWs from countries experiencing crisis situations or emergencies such as Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kenya.
OFWs will be assisted from the time of their repatriation overseas to their return and reintegration with their family, community and the economy.
Sumalinog said the 95 repatriated OFWs compose all of the workers deployed in Libya region who were documented by the OWWA central office to have come from the region. But she said there were a number of repatriated undocumented OFWs who have also sought assistance from their office.
“These were OFWs whose OWWA memberships have either expired or their registrations were processed at the central office and other regional offices,” she said.
Sumalinog said they expect that more OFWs from the region who are still in Libya will avail of the repatriation program and return home in the coming months.
“Libya is still under alert level 4 so we’re anticipating for more repatriates soon,” she said.
She assured that the agency has enough funds to cover for the emergency cash assistance of the other OFWs who will be returning to the area.