Caught in the crossfire
Last week, 13 Filipinos—11 adults and 2 children—were repatriated from Iraq, the first batch brought home after tensions flared again in the Middle East.
It is unfortunate that Filipinos who work in the Middle East have again been caught in the crossfire in the oil-rich region. Tehran had sent missiles on US targets in Iraq after the US assassination of an Iranian general near the Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) then raised Alert Level 4 prompting the mandatory repatriation of around 1,600 Filipinos in Iraq.
In Lebanon, over 1,000 Filipinos have reportedly signed up for repatriation after the Philippine embassy in Beirut sent an advisory on voluntary mass repatriation.
The stakes are high for the Philippines since many families depend on the remittances of overseas workers in the Middle East.
There were around 2.18 million overseas Filipinos in the Middle East in 2018. The region was the second top source of remittances after the Americas.
The money they send home helps keep families out of poverty, children are able to go to and stay in school, they have decent shelter, and they're able to help relatives in need.
Fortunately, the tensions in the Middle East have died down.
Hopefully, the calm will be maintained.