DFA proposes total deployment ban in Iraq

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A total deployment ban on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Iraq may be enacted by the Philippine government because of worsening political unrest, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Sunday.

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Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration are set to issue a resolution that would stop new deployments and prohibit OFWs from returning to Iraq.

On Saturday, the Foreign Affairs department asked OFWs in Iraq to avail of the voluntary repatriation program of the Philippine government.

This was after the department raised alert level 3, which calls for voluntary repatriation, in Iraq because of the civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims seen to lead to the division of the country into three regions.

The department also underlined the “deteriorating security situation” in Iraq as grounds for calling for the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos.

Under crisis alert level 3, the Philippine government will shoulder the costs to repatriate OFWs who will volunteer to leave Iraq.

Jose said some 900 Filipinos are still living or working in Iraq, although most of them are based in Kurdistan, a relatively safe region.

The Iraqi Kurdistan region remains under Alert Level 1 (Precautionary Phase) since it remains more peaceful compared to other areas in Iraq.

The United States (US) recently ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Gulf region after Sunni militants overran areas north of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital.

US President Barack Obama said he is reviewing military options to counter the offensive, although he ruled out the return of American combat troops to the Middle Eastern country.

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