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Embassy Row

Home for the holidays

Bea Micaller

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distressed OFW from Lebanon came home to spend Christmas with their families.

Thirty distressed Filipinos from Lebanon came home to spend Christmas with their families on 22 December last year.

Allegedly victims of human trafficking, the repatriates arrived from Beirut to Manila including five minors.

“This is the kind of commitment we give to our OFW (overseas Filipino workers) under this administration,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for migrant workers’ affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, who also led a repatriation team now in the Middle East.

But the agency’s works didn’t stop there.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) likewise flagged the member agencies of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

This can help the distressed in filing cases against the illegal recruiters who promised them job opportunities but instead gave them hard times in the foreign land.

IACAT is the government body which is mandated by law to monitor the implementation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

The DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affair, though, sent a rapid response team to assist the Philippine Embassy in Beirut to manage the repatriation.

And this is amid the deepening and worsening financial challenges that continue to haunt Lebanon.

The Migrant Workers’ Affairs unit shouldered the cost of the victims’ arrival in the country, as well as the immigration costs and penalties.

The repatriates were also granted with financial assistance that amounted to $100 that can aid them as they come home with almost nothing left in their pockets.

Truly, Christmas season is much better when family is together celebrating it.

And this was what these migrants hoped for during times of crisis.

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