Kuwait-Philippines joint monitoring to ensure OFWs’ welfare are met, labor expert says

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a deployment ban in February following numerous cases of abuse and murder of Filipino workers. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2018

Kuwait-Philippines joint monitoring to ensure OFWs’ welfare are met, labor expert says

DUBAI: The creation of a joint committee that would monitor the welfare Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait, particularly the household service workers, should ensure a faster response to cases of abuse, a labor and migration expert said Wednesday.
“The joint committee would help a lot in making sure that the welfare of [Filipino] workers are taken care of since they will regularly monitor the situation,” Emmanuel S. Geslani told Arab News in a telephone interview.
“The committee would also ensure that there would be an immediate response to abuse cases that would be lodged with the Philippine embassy [in Kuwait],” Geslani added.
The labor attaché in Kuwait will head the Philippine representation, while Kuwaiti immigration and foreign affairs officials will form the counterpart group for the joint committee, Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III told a legislative hearing on Wednesday.
The joint committee will be convened after Ramadan to finalize procedures for the enforcement of the Memorandum of Understanding, signed on May 11, which strengthened the diplomatic and labor relations between the Philippines and Kuwait after an earlier row over the supposed ‘rescue’ of domestic workers in the Gulf country.
Bello also announced that the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait would resume next week after consulting President Rodrigo Duterte, who imposed a ban in February following numerous cases of abuse and murder of Filipino workers including that of housemaid Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found stuffed in a freezer more than a year after she reported missing.
“They [non-skilled workers] can start traveling to Kuwait next week while skilled workers who are not covered by the MoU can fly out as early as tomorrow,” Bello said, as the guidelines on household service workers’ recruitment and deployment would be released next week.
Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them working in homes, latest deployment figures show.
“The guidelines should ensure that employers [of house helpers in Kuwait] would comply with the MoU and have an immediate response, because definitely some will not follow,” Geslani said, since Kuwaiti police and immigration authorities now have an established partnership with Philippine government representatives.


Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

Updated 19 min 38 sec ago

Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

  • Reports are credible, expert tells Arab News
  • Hospitals report spike in burns victims

ANKARA: Accusations that Turkey has used banned incendiary weapons against civilians in its invasion of northern Syria are credible, a leading security analyst told Arab News on Saturday.

Kurdish leaders said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fighter jets had dropped munitions containing napalm and white phosphorus on civilian targets in the border town of Ras Al-Ain, a key objective for Turkish troops.

“The Turkish aggression is using all available weapons against Ras Al-Ain,” the Kurdish administration said. “Faced with the obvious failure of his plan, Erdogan is resorting to weapons that are globally banned, such as phosphorus and napalm.”

Nicholas Heras, an analyst at the Center for New American Security, told Arab News: “There are now multiple credible reports that Turkey has used white phosphorus munitions in its campaign in northeast Syria, and especially against the stubborn defenders of the city of Ras Al-Ain.”

The attacks on Ras Al-Ain are being investigated by UN chemical weapons inspectors, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and Human Rights Watch. 

OPCW said it had “not yet determined the credibility of these allegations,” and its inspectors were monitoring the situation.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Erdogan’s jets ‘dropped munitions containing napalm and white phosphorus in Ras Al-Ain.’
  • The attacks are being probed by UN chemical weapons inspectors and Human Rights Watch.
  • A video posted on social media shows children with burns that a doctor says were consistent with the use of banned weapons.

If the use of banned incendiary weapons were proved, it would be a grave violation of Turkey’s pledge to wage war with concern for civilian lives, Heras said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there had been a spike in burn wounds treated at the Syrian-Kurdish hospital at Tal Tamir, mostly casualties brought in from the Ras Al-Ain area. 

The Kurdish Red Crescent said at least six people were being treated in hospital for burns. 

Kurdish officials posted a video on social media showing children with burns that one doctor in Hasakeh province said were consistent with the use of banned weapons.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert, told the UK newspaper The Times that the burns appeared to have been caused by white phosphorus.

The substance may be used to create a smoke screen, or as a battlefield marker, especially at night, but its use as an incendiary weapon is prohibited under international law.

Since 1997, Turkey has been a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

Dr. Willem Theo Oosterveld, a senior fellow at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, said the deployment of white phosphorus was not explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. 

However, he said, under humanitarian law “the use of means and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is prohibited.”