OVER 200,000 overseas Filipinos have returned to the Philippines since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Sunday, October 4.
A total of 204,481 overseas Filipinos have been repatriated, of which 135,004 (66.02%) are land-based and 69,477 (33.98%) are sea-based.
“For September alone, the DFA repatriated 41,892 overseas Filipinos — an overwhelming majority of whom came from the Middle East,” the agency said in a statement.
Overall by region, 31,217 (74.5%) were from the Middle East; 4,226 (10.1%) were from Asia and the Pacific; 3,666 (8.8%) were from the Americas; 2,634 (6.3%) were from Europe; and 149 (0.3%) were from Africa.
“September also saw the goodwill mission of the DFA in Lebanon. Together with the Office of Presidential Protocol, led by Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert E.A. Borje, the Philippine delegation brought 5,000 boxes of relief goods for the Filipino community in Beirut,” the DFA said.
On August 4, a powerful blast rocked the Port of Beirut in Lebanon, leaving at least 220 people dead and over 5,000 wounded. Among the casualties were 4 Filipinos, while 47 Filipinos were injured.
Based on reports, the explosion was triggered by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stockpiled in a warehouse after it was confiscated from an impounded cargo ship in 2013.
“The team also brought medical supplies which were donated to two Lebanese hospitals and two nongovernment organizations which have been taking care of OFs in Lebanon.
The return flight brought home 317 OFWs, most of whom were household service workers affected by the economic crisis and the recent blast at the Port of Beirut,” the DFA added.
The agency also reported that it repatriated 16 stranded seafarers from Xiamen, China despite the country’s existing restrictions on the disembarkation of seafarers and the unavailability of commercial flights.
“The repatriation was a product of months of negotiations and close coordination between the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen, the Philippine Embassy in Beijing and the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs,” the DFA said.
It also facilitated the repatriation of more than 1,000 Filipinos from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, Saudi Arabia through chartered flights shouldered by the agency’s Assistance-to-Nationals Fund.
“As the last quarter of the year starts, the DFA and its Foreign Service Posts will continue to facilitate repatriation flights to bring home our overseas Filipinos wherever they are in the world, the DFA said.