The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said a number of undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are awaiting repatriation in Saudi Arabia are getting ill.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the OFWs chose to camp out in the tent city outside the Philippine embassy in Jeddah instead of staying at temporary shelters.
“Being out there (tent city) is very dangerous and it is not good for the women and children and for anybody for that matter. We don’t want our OFWs to be exposed to the elements,” Hernandez said.
He called on the OFWs to go back to the temporary shelters run by the embassy.
He said since the repatriation started, 1,080 undocumented migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have been sent home.
The Filipino migrant sectoral group Migrante has warned that the old and sickly among the OFWs could die if they do not get medical attention soon.
“More deaths could occur among old and sick stranded OFWs though they’re temporarily sheltered at Philippine consulate in Jeddah,” said Migrante Vice Chairman John Leonard Monterona, who is the group’s coordinator in the Middle East and North Africa.
The DFA earlier confirmed that a 20-month-old boy died on June 30 inside the Philippine consulate in Jeddah.
Hernandez denied allegations that Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia were the ones who summoned the Saudi police to arrest Filipino workers who had demonstrated outside the consulate.
Migrante is demanding that the government recall and dismiss Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzadin Tago, Labor Attachè Adam Musa, and Welfare officer Abdullah Umpa because of the incident.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO