Kuwait – A total of 253 Filipinos in Kuwait will soon be reunited with their loved ones in the Philippines, amid the threat of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Kuwait and the subsequent lockdown of the country. This comes after the Kuwaiti government, through the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait, arranged a humanitarian flight for distressed Filipinos on 25 March 2020.
In a statement, Philippine Consul General to Kuwait Mohd. Noordin Pendosina N. Lomondot expressed his gratitude to the Kuwaiti government as well as Kuwait Airways for heeding the call of Filipinos at Talha Deportation Center, the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) Expatriate Shelter, and the Embassy’s very own shelter to come home to the Philippines, amid the ongoing lockdown of the country and the closure of Kuwait International Airport.
“The humanitarian flight of 253 OFWs in Kuwait is a testament to the enduring friendship between the Philippines and Kuwait. On behalf of the Philippine government and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), I thank the Kuwaiti government and Kuwait Airways for this generous gesture to our distressed kababayan,” Consul General Lomondot said.
For his part, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. and Vice Consul Charleson C. Hermosura lauded the efforts of Kuwait’s immigration, civil aviation and manpower authorities to fasttrack the immigration and repatriation procedures of the distressed Filipinos, as a way to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak at Kuwait’s usually crowded detention facilities and shelter.
Addressing earlier media reports about the repatriation, Chargé d’Affaires Hermosura said that the humanitarian flight was initially arranged for 21 March 2020 but was eventually rescheduled to 25 March 2020, which allowed the Embassy and POLO to maximize the capacity of Kuwait Airways’ Boeing 777 aircraft and add more distressed Filipinos to the said flight.
The Filipino repatriates are composed of: 179 distressed domestic workers; 39 former detainees at Talha Deportation Center, Sulaibiya Central Jail, and other detention facilities in Kuwait; 34 walk-in PAM clients who encountered various employment-related problems; and one infant.
The 253 distressed Filipinos are expected to arrive on 26 March 2020 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, where they will be welcomed and assisted by a team from the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), among other government agencies.
Since the middle of March, Kuwait has taken drastic yet proactive steps to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in the country. The ongoing lockdown led to, among others: the closure of government offices, schools, and non-essential businesses in Kuwait; the suspension of commercial flights to and from the country’s main airport; and the imposition of an 11-hour daily curfew from 5:00 P.M. to 4:00 A.M the following day. END