Heart warming: Saudi Arabia made sure deported Filipinos got sent home before Christmas
Filipinos staying illegally in Saudi Arabia numbering by the hundreds, were able to spend Christmas in the Philippines after they were repatriated with the help of the Kingdom, officials said.According to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, a report by the Consulate General in Jeddah said that a total 537 Filipinos staying at the Shumaisi Facility near Jeddah had been repatriated in several batches from December 16.
The repatriation of the Filipinos had been arranged by the Saudi Arabian authorities on two special flights on December 16 to 17. “The 537 are part of 644 Filipinos staying at the facility for processing after November 3 deadline for the correction period ordered by King Abdullah ended,” the Philippine Embassy said.
Earlier, the Philippine government had advised undocumented Filipinos in Saudi Arabia to secure proper documents after the Kingdom had given foreign workers more time to legalise their stay in that country.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez urged undocumented Filipinos in Saudi Arabia should correct their status before the November 13 deadline set by Riyadh. The Kingdom had earlier planned to carry out a crackdown on illegally staying foreign nationals during the earlier part of the year, but this was deferred by the King upon the urging of the business sector.
In light of the repatriation of hundreds of Filipinos ahead of Christmas, Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin Tago expressed gratitude to King Abdullah and the Saudi Arabian government. “I thank the Saudi Government for its continued assistance, and for the two special flights that repatriated the 537 Filipinos.”
“I also commend the officers and staff of the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah including our Labour and Social Service Attaches for helping our consulate in extending services to our nationals in Jeddah as well as in other regions of the Kingdom.” On the evening of December 16, 195 women with 59 children and 3 men, or a total of 257, were flown to Manila on board special Saudi Airlines flight SV3874.
The following evening, 186 women and 94 children, or a total of 280, followed on board another special Saudi Airlines SV 3876.According to the Department of Foreign Affirs, the repatriated Filipinos was the biggest number send to the Philippines in a single day. It added that their plane fares had been paid for by the Kingdom.