OFWs prefer to stay in Iraq, says migration expert

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Thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Iraq would disregard mandatory evacuation by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as they have a more stable income there compared to what is waiting for them in the Philippines.
Emmanuel Geslani, a recruitment consultant and migration expert, doubts if the DFA can convince the OFWs who are still in Baghdad to come home amid the escalating civil unrest in the northern and central parts of Iraq.

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“The OFWs still in Baghdad are working mostly for US and international companies who have their own evacuation plans in case ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] forces march toward Baghdad and most of them are inside the “Green Zone” the most heavily fortified area in Baghdad,” Geslani said in a statement.

He noted that many of the OFWs have been working for several years since 2005 as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, specialized mechanics and accountants.

Compared to workers in the Philippines, Geslani said, the OFWs in Iraq are earning from $1,500 to $2,000 a month with welfare benefits such as semi-annual paid vacation leaves including airfare.

Geslani said most Filipinos have married Iraqis in and around Baghdad.

He added that there are also a number of former soldiers and policemen from the Philippines working as security specialists with Dyn-International and Triple Canopy, renowned US companies contracted by the Security Operations Center.

The security specialists receive $2,500 to $3,000 a month doing convoy and close-in details for diplomats and high-ranking company officials, Geslani said.

Some of the OFWs are also in Bashra south of Baghdad and work with oil drilling companies who feel that they are very safe in that area and say it is not necessary for them to leave their jobsites.

The rest of the OFWs are in Erbil, said to be calm and progressive, working in hotels and companies.

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