Philippines says more than 2,200 citizens in Kuwait want to go home

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A Filipino worker who was repatriated from Kuwait carries her child upon arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines February 12, 2018. (Reuters)
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Filipino workers who were repatriated from Kuwait fill out labor-related papers upon arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines February 12, 2018. (Reuters)
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Filipino workers who were repatriated from Kuwait fill out labor-related papers upon arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila in the Philippines February 12, 2018. (Reuters)
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shows a photo of a Filipino worker in Kuwait during a press conference in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao on February 9, 2018. (AFP)
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Filipino workers who were repatriated from Kuwait take part in a dialogue with a Department of Labour official at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines February 12, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 12 February 2018

Philippines says more than 2,200 citizens in Kuwait want to go home

MANILA: Philippines Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing said that around Overseas Filipino workers have arrived in Manila on Monday morning.
“They belong to the first batch of Filipinos who where allowed after applying for amnesty after overstaying their stays or escaping their employers,” Roque said.
“Those who were repatriated would be given financial assistance [amountin] P5,000 (SR366) and a further P20,000 assistance for alternative livelihood.”
More than 2,200 Filipinos are ready to take up President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to repatriate workers from Kuwait due to reports of abuse, the Philippine labor minister said on Sunday.
Duterte asked Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific on Friday to provide flights for Filipinos who want to leave Kuwait, after a body of a Filipino worker was found in a freezer of an abandoned apartment.
“We have been informed that as of Friday there were 2,200-plus Filipinos who are willing to go home,” Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III told Reuters, adding that some of them had overstayed their visas and applied for an amnesty.
The airlines have arranged free charter flights, and Bello said almost 500 Filipino workers were due to arrive soon.
The Philippines suspended sending workers to Kuwait in January after reports that abuse by employers had driven several to suicide. Duterte said on Friday that that suspension would remain indefinitely.
Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah expressed “surprise and sorrow” at Duterte’s remarks in January, saying that legal proceedings had been taken in the cases of the four suicide cases mentioned by the president.
More than 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, the Philippine foreign ministry estimates, most as domestic helpers. There are also large numbers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The government would help repatriated workers look for jobs, Bello said.
“We are into a re-integration program, we have a program in place for them,” he told the ANC news channel. “They will be given a livelihood.”
“We are now in the process of looking for alternative markets. One of them is China and even Russia,” he said, without elaborating.
(With Reuters)


US to pull last troops from north Syria

Updated 14 October 2019

US to pull last troops from north Syria

  • The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria
  • Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of US’s Kurdish-led ally the Syrian Democratic Forces

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT: The United States said on Sunday it will withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops from northern Syria in the face of an expanding Turkish offensive while Syria’s army struck a deal with Kurdish forces to redeploy along its border with Turkey, both major victories for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria and the failure of the US policy of keeping Assad from reasserting state authority over areas lost during the more than eight-year conflict with rebels trying to end his rule.
The developments also represent wins for Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad since 2011 when his violent effort to crush what began as peaceful protests against his family’s decades-long rule of Syria exploded into a full-blown civil war.
While the US withdrawal moves American troops out of the line of fire, the return of Syrian soldiers to the Turkish border opens up the possibility of a wider conflagration should the Syrian army come in direct conflict with Turkish forces.
The Turkish onslaught in northern Syria has also raised the prospect that Daesh militants and their families held by the Kurdish forces targeted by Turkey may escape — scores were said to have done so already — and permit the group’s revival.
The remarkable turn of events was set in motion a week ago when US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw about 50 special operations forces from two outposts in northern Syria, a step widely seen as paving the way for Turkey to launch its week-long incursion against Kurdish militia in the region.
Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of Washington’s Kurdish-led ally, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been a key US ally in dismantling the “caliphate” set up by Daesh militants in Syria.
Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group aligned with Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said the offensive would extend from Kobani in the west to Hasaka in the east and extend some 30 kilometers into Syrian territory, with the town of Ras al Ain now in Turkish control.
US Defense Secretary Mike Esper said the United States decided to withdraw its roughly 1,000 troops in northern Syria — two US officials told Reuters it could pull the bulk out in days — after learning of the deepening Turkish offensive.
It was unclear what would happen to the several hundred US troops at the American military outpost of Tanf, near Syria’s southern border with Iraq and Jordan.
Another factor behind the decision, Esper indicated in an interview with the CBS program “Face the Nation,” was that the SDF aimed to make a deal with Russia and Syria to counter the Turkish onslaught. Several hours later, the Kurdish-led administration said it had struck just such an agreement for the Syrian army to deploy along the length of the border with Turkey to help repel Ankara’s offensive.
The deployment would help the SDF in countering “this aggression and liberating the areas that the Turkish army and mercenaries had entered,” it added, referring to Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, and would also allow for the liberation of other Syrian cities occupied by the Turkish army such as Afrin.
The fighting has sparked Western concerns that the SDF, holding large swathes of northern Syria once controlled by Daesh, would be unable to keep thousands of militants in jail and tens of thousands of their family members in camps.