In the last six months since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Philippine government has repatriated a total of 135,290 overseas Filipinos, a huge majority of them composed of sea-based workers.
Of the total, 38.9 percent (52,639 OFs) are sea-based while 61.1 percent (82,651 OFs) are land-based.
This past week, the Department of Foreign Affairs said 10,573 were brought home from the Middle East through 27 special commercial repatriation flights and two DFA-chartered flights.
Some 2,984 sea-based Filipinos returned home last week, including two medical repatriations from Seychelles and Brazil. The repatriated seafarers came from various countries, including Canada, the United States, Japan, India, China, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, and Greece.
Despite the setback suffered by Filipino seafarers following the outbreak of the pandemic, migration consultant Emmanuel Geslani sees “a bit of good news” with the partial opening of a few number of cruise lines in Europe and the Mediterranean.
He said among those who have announced the re-launching of their mostly short-term voyages are the TUI Cruises, a German company in which Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) holds a stake; Hurtigruten, a private company based in Norway; and Hong Kong-based Genting Cruise Lines.
Geslani, however, said the bulk of the over 50,000 Filipino cruise ships crewmembers who have been repatriated may have to wait for few more months before the world’s three largest cruise operators — Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Lines — which comprise 70 percent of the cruise ships all over the world, may resume operations after the fall towards 2021.
Early last week, 250 stranded nationals were repatriated from Papua New Guinea and Melbourne, Australia on board two special commercial repatriation flights
Today, more than 400 distressed nationals from Lebanon, including the remains of the four OFWs who perished in the recent twin explosions in Beirut, are scheduled to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board a DFA-chartered flight.
Beginning on Wednesday, the Philippine Embassy in Beirut will accept requests for repatriation among the estimated 33,000 Filipinos in Lebanon in anticipation of the next government-funded flight to Manila.
Over the weekend, a Philippine Airlines flight specially made available to the Filipino community in Thailand brought home a total of 53 Filipinos from Bangkok.
The latest batch of Filipinos in Bangkok brings the total number of government-assisted repatriates from Thailand to 1,452.