DFA: Over 277K overseas Filipinos repatriated amid COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

MORE than 277,000 Filipinos have returned to the Philippines since the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) began COVID-related repatriation efforts in February.

A total of 277,320 Filipinos abroad have been repatriated by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) since it began its COVID-related repatriation efforts in February.

Of the figure, 86,413 (31.16%) are sea-based overseas Filipinos, while 190,907 (68.84%) are land-based.

The DFA on Wednesday, December 2, announced that it has brought home 34,312 Filipinos from the Middle East, 3,310 from Asia and the Pacific, 2,316 from Europe, 10 from Africa, and nine from the Americas for the month of November.

“The DFA also organized three chartered flights which flew home 460 distressed overseas Filipinos who have been stranded in China, Saudi Arabia, and Timor Leste for several months,” the agency said.

“These chartered flights were shouldered by the DFA through its augmented ATN funds under Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act,” it added.

The month of November also saw the medical repatriation of 21 OFs with serious illness from Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Cuba, Italy, Kuwait, Laos, Oman, and Pakistan.

“All throughout November, our DFA frontliners were at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and assisted in the safe return of our distressed kababayan,” the DFA said.

Likewise, nine Filipino seafarers were brought home after their shipping vessel was abandoned by its owner at the Port of Djibouti.

The department, through the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, coordinated with its missions abroad to lobby hard with the Djibouti representatives in the International Maritime Organization in London, the United Nations in New York, and the Djibouti Embassy in Tokyo to allow the disembarkation of the Filipino crew of MV Arybbas on humanitarian grounds.

The repatriated Filipinos arrived safely in Manila on November 24 after being stranded onboard their vessel for more than fourteen months.

“The DFA continues to deliver on its promise of bringing home our overseas Filipinos, regardless of the challenges we face,” said Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola.

“As 2020 draws to a close, the DFA remains unwavering in its promise to repatriate Filipinos all around the world amidst the pandemic,” the agency added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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