43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

Updated 14 February 2014

43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

A total of 883 Filipinos died abroad and 3,154 jailed for various offenses, according to a newly released report from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The figures have resulted in many Filipinos asking their government to create more jobs for citizens at home, while others have questioned the veracity of the data.
The DFA stated that 382 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) died in Saudi Arabia, 93 in the United Arab Emirates, 85 in Qatar, 47 in Kuwait and 30 in Bahrain.
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of labor with about 10 million workers employed mostly as domestic helpers, construction laborers and medical personnel. Saudi Arabia accounts for more than a tenth of overseas Filipinos, surpassed only by the United States, say Philippine government records.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told GMA News Online that most cases of deaths and imprisonment are in the Gulf region — a key destination for Filipino workers. Common causes of deaths are illness and accidents.
The Middle East had the highest number of Filipinos jailed for various offenses followed by Southeast Asia and then China.
Another DFA official said common offenses committed by Filipinos in these countries are possession of liquor, which is banned in some Arab nations, theft or embezzlement, immorality, drug trafficking, murder and traffic violations.
A total of 634 Filipinos were detained for drug trafficking — 347 women and 287 men — in countries abroad, the DFA said.
Despite limited financial resources, the DFA was reportedly able to provide aid to 20,875 distressed Filipino workers in 2013, including 3,044 victims of human trafficking and hundreds caught in conflict in strife-torn nations.
Saidy Malic, a Riyadh-based community leader, has disputed the accuracy of the report. He said most of the data released by the DFA are unverified. He claimed that the DFA had also released incorrect figures on the number of Filipinos deployed in Saudi Arabia during the recent labor crackdown.
“The problem is that we cannot get correct information from the DFA much less from our embassy here. OFW’s have been crying for a single institution dedicated only to overseas workers but this was never granted,” he said.
“Information from non-governmental and other civil society organizations is more reliable. Unless we are recognized and given representation by the government we will continue to have the same problems.”
“We have actually been taken for granted and exploited as seen by the existence of more undocumented and un-repatriated OFWs.” He said many of these workers would be arrested before action is taken to help them.
Sigrid Matherson GoldSmith, an OFW based in Australia, urged the Philippine government to bring Filipinos home but said something must be done because they would be “returning to a country where they cannot earn anything and will have nothing to eat.”
A former OFW, Mods Abdullah, suggested that the government provide OFWs training on how to safeguard themselves abroad.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has recognized the need for the country to stop depending on remittances, according to reports. He would “create jobs at home so that working abroad will be out of choice, not necessity.”
A local media report said that every year hundreds of Filipino workers leave the country in search for better opportunities “Many have succeeded but some have come home in coffins in crushing personal tragedies that have become so commonplace they seldom make news at home.”
Their struggling Southeast Asian nation calls them “modern-day heroes” for the often meager earnings they send home that, collectively, keep the Philippine economy afloat and local businesses booming, the report said.


Riyadh Travel Fair faces second delay amid coronavirus

Updated 17 min 19 sec ago

Riyadh Travel Fair faces second delay amid coronavirus

  • Riyadh Travel Fair is the largest tourism and travel exhibition in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s largest tourism display, the Riyadh Travel Fair 2020, has been postponed for a second time because of safety fears over the coronavirus pandemic.

Initially scheduled for March, the annual event was first shifted to September, but is now planned for March 15-18, 2021.

The latest postponement was made in the interests of public health and safety by officials at ASAS Exhibitions and Conference Organizing Company, the firm organizing the fair. 

Bandar Al-Quraini, the company’s general manager, said: “We are now planning for the 2021 edition and look forward to welcoming back all our travel industry partners and public once the health and safety of visitors can be fully assured.”

Riyadh Travel Fair is the largest tourism and travel exhibition in the Kingdom, attracting visitors and exhibitors from the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. 

It aims to promote investment, development and sustainability of this sector in the region.

More than 270 exhibitors from 50 countries were due to take part in the 2020 edition, with up to 30,000 visitors expected for the three-day event.