Leader of militant Hamas leaves Gaza for talks in Egypt

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh left Friday for Egypt, two days after Cairo opened the crossing temporarily. (Reuters)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Leader of militant Hamas leaves Gaza for talks in Egypt

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: The leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas that rules Gaza has left the blockaded territory for talks in neighboring Egypt after the country opened its border for a few days.
The group said in a statement that Ismail Haniyeh left Friday, two days after Egypt opened the crossing temporarily.
It said the visit aims to discuss Gaza’s economic crisis “that put Gaza on the edge of the abyss.”
Talks will also cover obstacles stalling a Palestinian unity deal with the Palestinian government in the West Bank, it said.
To the frustration of thousands of Palestinians wishing to leave Gaza, Egypt shut the frontier after the Hamas delegation crossed and its military began an anti-insurgent operation nearby.
Egypt has kept Rafah mostly closed since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007.


Philippine government to strengthen pre-departure program for Kuwait-bound OFWs

Updated 40 min 49 sec ago
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Philippine government to strengthen pre-departure program for Kuwait-bound OFWs

DUBAI: The Philippine government is strengthening its pre-departure information and education program for Filipino workers bound for Kuwait, a senior labor official said on Thursday.
“[The latest government effort] should ensure that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) [bound to Kuwait] know their rights and responsibilities,” Hans Leo J. Cacdac, administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) told Arab News.
An estimated 262,000 Filipinos are currently deployed in Kuwait, most of them employed as household service workers. There are about 10 million OFWs spread in 170 countries, with one million in Saudi Arabia alone, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong and Qatar, among others.
“We are also boosting our personnel complement in POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) Kuwait, through augmentation personnel and more regular plantilla personnel,” Cacdac said.
Labor and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani earlier commented that the labor situation in Kuwait, where there was high incidence of abuse and deaths specially among household workers, was partly to due a lack of welfare officers to monitor OFWs’ situation.
President Rodrigo Duterte in February imposed a ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait, after being angered with the reports of abuse including the death of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was dumped in a freezer in an abandoned apartment.
“There were many complaints that abuse cases lodged before labor officials in Kuwait were not being acted upon. This may have eventually led to the unfortunate ‘rescue videos’ incident,” Geslani. “But generally, employers are willing to give up their employees especially if there is coordination with Kuwait police.”
Philippine-Kuwaiti diplomatic and labor relations hit their lowest last month, with the Filipino ambassador expelled and some embassy officials arrested, when videos of supposed rescue of distressed OFWs went viral and angered the Gulf nation for affronting its sovereignty.
Both countries, however, earlier this month signed an agreement that will further protect Filipino workers in the Gulf nation particularly household services workers, who can now keep their passports – or by embassy personnel – and also own mobiles phones aside from having a day off once a week. The Philippine government lifted the deployment ban to Kuwait last week.
“We will be part of the POLO team that will monitor compliance with the MOA, particularly in the area of welfare and protection of OFWs,” Cacdac said.