The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait arranged a chartered Kuwait Airways flight on 28 June 2020, to repatriate 314 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the Philippines, who were suffering under the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in Kuwait.
In a statement, Philippine Embassy in Kuwait Chargé d‘Affaires and Consul General Mohd. Noordin Pendosina N. Lomondot reaffirmed the Philippine government’s commitment to bringing home OFWs, who lost their jobs and income in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Philippine Embassy stands ready to assist our kababayan in Kuwait who wish to be repatriated and reunited with their loved ones back home, despite the travel restrictions both in Kuwait and in the Philippines,” said Chargé d‘Affaires Lomondot.
Chargé d‘Affaires Lomondot explained that some of the challenges that the Embassy is currently facing regarding the repatriation of Filipinos in Kuwait include the continued closure of Kuwait International Airport to commercial passenger flights, and the ongoing restrictions for arriving passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. The restrictions in both airports are part of the respective government’s preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 in their countries.
“Nevertheless, we are very hopeful that more Filipinos will be able to fly out of Kuwait, as we see improvements in Kuwait’s and the Philippines’ fight against the COVID-19,” added Chargé d‘Affaires Lomondot.
Chargé d‘Affaires Lomondot thanked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for granting a landing clearance at the NAIA for the chartered Kuwait Airways flight.
Joining Chargé d‘Affaires Lomondot in sending off the OFW-repatriates were Vice Consul and Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Unit Head Adrian Audrey L. Baccay, Assistant Labor Attaché Cathrine A. Duladul of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), and Welfare Officers Genevieve A. Ardiente and Llewelyn D. Perez of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Majority of those who joined the repatriation flight were Visa 18 (private sector) workers who either completed their employment contracts in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown or lost their jobs during the pandemic. Their companies originally bought air tickets for the flights of their Filipino workers, but frequent flight cancellations led these OFWs to appeal for help from the Embassy.
To date, 2,780 overseas Filipinos have been repatriated from Kuwait since the COVID-19 lockdown began last March 2020. The Kuwaiti government repatriated 2,466 undocumented and distressed Filipinos from March to June 2020, as part of concerted efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
The Embassy targets to top 3,000 overseas Filipinos who will be repatriated from Kuwait by the end of June 2020.