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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

COVID-19 and global meltdown send more Filipinos home

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) remains committed to bringing home our distressed Filipino nationals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic from anywhere in the world. This week, the DFA brought home 9,505 overseas Filipinos, which puts the total number of repatriates at 144,795 since February 2020.

Of the total, 55,159 percent (38.1% OFs) are sea-based while 89,636 percent (61.9% OFs) are land-based.

OFs from the Middle East continue to comprise most of this week’s repatriates. The DFA flew home 7,787 OFs from the region through 25 special commercial repatriation flights and 3 DFA-chartered flights. This week also marked the arrival of the first batch of repatriates from Lebanon, following the blast that happened at Beirut Port earlier this month. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola personally welcomed the repatriates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last Monday.

As air travel in certain places such as Sydney, Australia and Muscat, Oman continue to be limited, the DFA remains steadfast in bringing our countrymen home as it facilitated special commercial repatriation flights from these two cities this week. The DFA’s repatriation efforts were also present in Africa as the Department brought home 85 overseas Filipinos from Kenya, Egypt and Angola.

Finally, 257 overseas Filipinos from Uzbekistan are on their way home and will be arriving at NAIA tonight to a warm welcome by our DFA frontliners. This is the first repatriation flight for the Central Asia region where commercial flights are still currently suspended.

With the bicameral conference committee’s approval of the Php 820 million augmentation of the DFA’s Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Fund under the proposed Bayanihan 2 bill last Thursday, the DFA reassures our overseas Filipinos of its sustained repatriation efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. END

File photo of returning overseas Filipinos from Beirut, Lebanon. (DFA Photo)

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