100 distressed OFWs in Abu Dhabi spend Christmas in shelter

MANILA, Dec. 25, 2011—At least 100 overseas Filipino workers had spent their Christmas in jam-packed temporary shelter provided by the Philippine Government in the Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ capital city.

Mostly absconders, John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator of Migrante-Middle East said, these OFWs had run away from their abusive employers, sought the help of the Philippine Embassy, hoping that they could be repatriated immediately. But sad to say, most of them have already stayed at the Bahay Kanlungan for about three to six months now.

Monterona said the OFWs are religiously following up the status of their repatriation but the Embassy personnel always say, “The papers are on process.”

“A Filipina named Karen Agustin from Abulug, Cagayan had run away from her employer on October because of sexual harassment,” Monterona told CBCPNews in a message. The 23-year old Filipina had worked as a domestic helper (DH) in Al Ain, a town about 160 kilometers, east of Abu Dhabi.

Monterona said, 90 percent of the distressed OFWs staying at the BK are victims of unfair labor practices, physical and verbal abuse, and sexual abuse.

Migrante-ME also revealed that aside from the 100 in Abu Dhabi, there are about 4,500 OFWs in the whole Middle East who are staying with different centers run by the Philippine Embassy, and also waiting for their repatriation.

The migrant leader urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to expedite the processing of the repatriation papers of the said OFWs for them to be with their families in New Year. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]