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.


Saudis unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

Updated 08 December 2019

Saudis unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

  • The attack, in which a Saudi gunman killed three Americans, is viewed as an act that does not represent Saudi people
  • The OIC has said the attacker did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people

From the king and top-level Saudi government officials to everyday Saudi citizens, all are united in condemning the attack on a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, calling it as “un-Islamic” and barbaric.

The shooting of three Americans by a Saudi gunman was an individual attack that does not represent the Kingdom’s people, it has been widely  stressed. 

For decades, many Saudis have lived in the US for work or attended universities across many states, becoming their own ambassadors. 

Nedda Akhonbay, a communications professional working in Jeddah, expressed her sadness when she heard the news.

“My condolences go out to the families of the victims as I hope they find peace in their lives after facing such a tragedy. As a Saudi-American and having spent many formative years in the US and made friends who became like family, I thought this attack was very close to home and I hope both people work together to get past it.”

“As a student who lived in the States, I never faced any problems for being a Muslim,” said Alaa Sendi, an American-Saudi lecturer working in Jeddah University.

Having obtained a PhD in electrical engineering, Dr. Nazih Al-Othmani lived between the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania for ten years in the late 1990s and was in the US during the 9/11 attacks. He recalled how Americans understood that such atrocious attacks never represented a community, and this one was no exception.

“The tragic event that took place yesterday does not represent us, this attack is unacceptable regardless of any reason and no sane person can ever accept it,” he said. “I lived in the States for many years, I was also there on 9/11, and made many American friends throughout my time there. They stood by us, they helped us, protected us and our relationship was very civil and courteous. We need to stand together to combat this dangerous tendency that can be found in every community.”

The attack at the US naval station in Pensacola, Florida, was the second incident at an American military base in this week, following another shooting at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Wednesday. (AFP)

Many Saudis are angered over the actions of this one individual. Dr. Al-Othmani expressed his concerns about those who would take advantage of the situation and try to point a finger at Saudis.

“Though right-wingers will take advantage of the event and attack Saudi Arabia, I don’t believe many Americans will see it that way. Americans are aware enough to differentiate between the nationality of an individual and his actions,” he said.

Al-Othmani recommends that Saudi students communicate, cooperate and extend a hand of friendship to their respective communities.

In the decades of friendship and cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, many Americans have come to work in the Kingdom and some have made it their home. 

Dr. Alia Mitchell, vice dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, is an American citizen who has been a Muslim for more than 30 years and has lived in the Kingdom for more than 20 years. She has chosen to live in the Kingdom as she sees the beauty of the religion interwoven into society, one that she believes is not represented by the shooter. 

“When something tragic that happens like this, it’s on the individual,” she said. “it doesn’t go back to the community or the society.

“I’m still sickened and mostly very, very saddened with this tragedy,” said Melanie H. “I’ve a son the same age as the shooter and can’t imagine what the pain and grief his actions would do to me as a parent. To learn that your son has caused so much hell… that he has taken others’ lives.”

She said: “I lived in Saudi Arabia for over 10 years and I have experienced Saudi’s hospitality, warmth — nothing like what I imagined or expected before arriving. It isn’t perfect but then what country or nation is?” 

“Now that the country has opened its doors to the world, people really shouldn’t judge the book by its cover especially when criminals like this shooter make such a false, misleading cover.” 

Melanie H continued: “Do not judge a people by an individual — that’s what we Americans are all about. No judging.”


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He doesn’t represent us’: Saudis tweet in solidarity with Americans over Florida Navy base shooting

 Florida shooting ‘nothing to do with gunman’s family, tribe’


“This crime does not represent us as Saudis,” said Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, minister of Islamic Affairs, on his personal Twitter account. “We reject such criminal acts and we sympathize with the injured and the families of the victims. It is a horrible crime and a dishonest act.

“We condemn crimes anywhere and anytime, and we stress our complete rejection of such horrible criminal acts which Islam forbids.”

Saudi scholar and Imam of Quba Mosque in Madinah Saleh Al-Maghamsi shared the same notion. He said: “This incident should be stripped away from religion and from the country to which whoever committed this criminal act is affiliated. The Shariah does not approve of this act for it violates the texts of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet, which is based on the principle of no bloodshed. Logic also does not approve of this action.” 

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the aggressor did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people and all Muslims who believe in tolerance, moderation and coexistence.

The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia also condemned the shooting incident in Florida and called it a heinous crime. 

Describing it as a crime against humanity, the senior scholars stressed that such actions were against the true teachings of Islam. They said that the Saudi people will continue to uphold their noble values and contribute to the progress and prosperity of the world and humanity.