Stranded OFWs in Saudi anxious as crackdown looms
MANILA – Undocumented Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia are getting more anxious as the deadline on the crackdown on illegal foreign workers in the kingdom ends on November 3.
"Natatakot, nangangamba at siyempre, hindi namin alam kung makukulong kami o saan kami dadalhin. Sana makauwi na," said Julius Asura, one of the stranded OFWs staying at the tent city in Jeddah.
While Asura expressed fears, he also welcomed the idea of the crackdown to hasten their chances of coming home.
"Kung dumating man ang crackdown o ikulong na or deportation, mas maganda, para makauwi na," he said.
While many are still hoping that the Saudi Arabian government would extend anew the amnesty, others just want the crackdown to continue.
"Mas gusto namin na magka-crackdown na, kasi pag nagkaroon pa ng extension, mas lalo kaming mahihirapan dito," said another OFW named Anwar.
They said life at the tent city is hard as many fall ill due to the heat, poor sanitation, lack of food and water, and access to medical care.
"May mga anak, may mga buntis, tag-hirap na kami sa tubig, lahat. Hindi namin alam kung magkaka-extension pa, at iyon, malaking problema iyon," Anwar added.
Over 500 stranded OFWs are still staying at the tent city in Jeddah, relying on kindhearted kababayans for food and help.
As of October 28, the Department of Foreign Affairs said a total of 4,302 Filipinos have been repatriated from Saudi Arabia. Of the total, 2,388 were from Riyadh and eastern region, while 1,914 were from Jeddah. -- Report from Charles Tabbu, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau