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)


UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

Updated 12 min 40 sec ago

UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

  • Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east
  • Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves

GENEVA: The United Nations said Friday that the two sides in Libyan military talks had reached a “historic achievement” with a permanent cease-fire agreement across the war-torn North African country.
After mediation this week led by UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Turco Williams, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point toward peace and stability in Libya.”
Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.
Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers. The country was plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“The road to a permanent cease-fire deal was often long and difficult,” Williams, a former US State Department official, said in Arabic at the signing ceremony.
“Before us is a lot of work in the coming days and weeks in order to implement the commitments of the agreement,” she said. “It is essential to continue work as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the many problems due to this conflict facing the Libyan people.”
“We have to give people hope of a better future,” Williams added. She expressed hope the agreement will succeed “in ending the suffering of Libyans and allowing those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes.”
Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation and a field commander for the UN-supported administration in Tripoli, said: “We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed ... We hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south.”
“I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand,” he said, warning about polarization by factions.
The meetings this week mark the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under Williams’ watch. The Geneva-based military talks come ahead of a political forum in Tunisia in November. That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
On Wednesday, Williams had said the two warring factions agreed on issues that “directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people,” citing agreements to open air and land routes in the country, to work to ease inflammatory rhetoric in Libyan media, and to help kickstart Libya’s vital oil industry.
Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory. This breakthrough also accompanied the resumption of oil production after a months-long blockade by powerful tribes allied with military commander Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern-based forces.
Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli, the seat of the UN-supported government in the west. But his campaign collapsed in June.
Fighting has since died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.