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.

From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

Updated 01 June 2020

From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

  • Doors open again after virus lockdown
  • Internal flights resume from Saudi airports

JEDDAH/AMMAN: It began at dawn. As the first light appeared on the horizon and the call to Fajr prayer rang out, Muslims from Riyadh to Madinah and Jeddah to Jerusalem returned to their mosques on Sunday after a two-month break that for many was unbearable.

More than 90,000 mosques throughout Saudi Arabia were deep cleaned and sanitized in preparation for the end of the coronavirus lockdown. Worshippers wore face masks, kept a minimum of two meters apart, brought their own prayer mats and performed the ablution ritual at home.

“My feelings are indescribable. We are so happy. Thank God we are back in His house,” said Abdulrahman, 45, at Al-Rajhi mosque in Riyadh, where worshippers had their temperatures checked before entering.

Television screens inside the mosque displayed written instructions, including the need to maintain a safe distance from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Jerusalem, at 3:30 a.m. thousands crowded outside three gates assigned to be opened to allow Muslims to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. Young and old, men and women, many with their phone cameras on, chanted religious songs as they waited to return for the first time since the virus lockdown began.

“Those wishing to pray were checked for their temperature and those without a mask were given one by Waqf staff. All were asked to stay a safe distance from each other when they prayed,” Mazen Sinokrot, a member of the Islamic Waqf, told Arab News.

Wasfi Kailani executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque told Arab News that enabling Muslims to pray in large numbers and according to health requirements had gone smoothly.

“People cooperated with the local Muslim authorities and followed the regulations.” The people of Jerusalem had shown a high degree of responsibility, he said.

Israeli police spokesman Miky Rosenfeld told Arab News that extra police units had been  mobilized in the old city of Jerusalem for the reopening of Al-Aqsa. 

“People arrived in the areas scheduled according to health and security guidelines,” he said.

Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former Minister for Jerusalem in the Ismael Haniyeh government in 2006, said people were happy to be able to pray once more at Islam’s third-holiest site.

“It is time to open a new page in cooperation with local institutions and with Jordan to regain all that has been lost over the years,” he told Arab News.

“The Waqf council has done a good job in dealing with the contradictions and pressures that they are under, which is like walking on a knife’s edge as they deal with the occupiers on the one hand and the health situation on the other, while also trying to be responsive to the desires of worshippers.”

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, commercial flights took to the air again, office staff returned to work and restaurants resumed serving diners as life began a gradual return to normal after the coronavirus lockdown.

Eleven of the Kingdom’s 28 airports opened on Sunday for the first time since March 21. “The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowds inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” civil aviation spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.

No one without an e-ticket will be allowed into an airport, face masks must be worn and safe distancing observed, and children under 15 may not travel unaccompanied.