A total of 367 distressed and undocumented Filipinos from the Middle East have finally made it home to the Philippines via a sweeper flight mounted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) over the weekend.
Included among this latest batch of repatriates were 280 Filipinos from Lebanon, 82 from Bahrain and five trafficking victims from Syria.
The DFA’s migrant workers affairs office said the five from Syria were illegally hired to work in that country and suffered abuse from their employers, as well as poor working conditions until they sought refuge at the Philippine Embassy in Damascus.
The A380 sweeper flight from Beirut, Lebanon, and Manama, Bahrain arrived on Monday morning, Sept. 13. This increases the total number of repatriated Filipinos since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to 420,205.
Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Raymond Balatbat personally led the send-off of the repatriates at the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (BRHIA). Prior to their repatriation, the Embassy provided assistance-to-nationals (ATN) services for various cases covering migration-related, legal, medical, and social welfare concerns.
Another chartered flight from Dubai, UAE is arriving in Manila on September 16. It will be the final DFA-chartered flight scheduled for the year, although repatriations through commercial flights will continue, according to the foreign affairs office.
Aside from the RT-PCR COVID-19 test being conducted for all repatriates at least 48 hours prior to their departure from their port of origin, they will also undergo facility-based quarantine provided by the Philippine government as soon as they land in the Philippines.
In conformity with the health protocols set by the Department of Health (DOH) – Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), the repatriates shall undergo further RT-PCR testing for COVID-19.