IOM to charter plane for repatriation of 450 OFWs from Lebanon

26 July 2006 — The Philippine Embassy in Lebanon reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has confirmed its assistance in repatriating 450 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Beirut to Damascus, Syria by bus and then to Manila by a chartered B747 aircraft.

Minister and Consul General Walter S. Salmingo said Mr. Vincent Houver of IOM Beirut has written the Embassy stating that the IOM will bring a total of 450 OFWs who are still at the Philippine evacuation center in Beirut back home to the Philippines

In his letter addressed to Minister Salmingo, Mr. Houver confirmed, “IOM’s assistance to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in the evacuation of its nationals to Syria, and further afield by air to Manila. To this end, a Boeing 747 aircraft will be chartered on 1 August 2006, with a maximum capacity of 450 passengers.”

Mr. Houver further wrote, “IOM Beirut is therefore looking forward to evacuate a first group of 250 (OFWs) on Saturday, 29 July, followed by a second (batch) on Sunday, 30 July. All associated costs will be covered by IOM. Individuals will also be provided with temporary accommodation at the IOM shelter in Syria.”

He then requested the Embassy to “communicate to IOM Beirut as soon as possible details as to the identity of individuals requesting assistance, as well as type of travel documentation.” The Embassy is now organizing the next batch of OFWs to be repatriated from the relocation site at the Church of the Miraculous Medal in Sassine, Beirut to Damascus, Syria and then to the Philippines through the IOM’s assistance. (DFA Press Release)

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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  • This is really good news. We really need international assistance. Now, the government must take this cue. Its imperative that we repatriate our people. Sana lang may maibibigay silang alternative when this OFWs arrive. Most of these people had to sell almost all their properties just to be able to pay for their placement fees. I know that there are NGOs and other organizations who help our indigents, but the government must be at the forefront and not just do mere lip service which is what really happens now. A nation will never progress until most of her citizens live in poverty.

  • Sana, individuals like us also help. I try to send my household help to school. With the few savings I have, I help them finish high school or attend a vocational institute during their free time. I hope that in my own little way, I can give them hope and a better future. I hope people with more to give, share what they have to help improve our people’s lives.