March 31, 2020, Tuesday
“Concern yourselves more with the needs of others, with the needs of all humanity, and you will have peace of mind.”Dalai Lama
Each country has its own community of expatriates. It is because many individuals transfer to foreign countries in search of employment and livelihood. However, when a crisis strikes the world, these expatriates only has one wish. It is to be able to return home with their families.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 23 new COVID-19 cases with one additional recovery. It brings to a total tally of 289 cases with 73 recovered cases. Within the new cases, eight are related to travel, 14 had contact with confirmed cases, and one is under investigation. Two-hundred sixteen patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 13 are in the intensive care unit. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.
Options for the Country’s Educational Progress
Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 disease, the Ministry of Education will forward its vision about private and public education to the parliamentary educational and cultural committee within ten days. Minister Dr. Saud Al-Harbi affirmed that the education progress would not stop in the State of Kuwait just because of the COVID-19 crisis. He said that online education is a part of their optional choice during their meeting with the parliamentary committee. With that, the parliament and government are closely coordinating in discussing the progress of education in the country.
As each country fights the COVID-19 crisis, the pursuance of education for everyone will not cease. It is good to adopt new strategies or options for education, especially with the help of high technological devices.
Update of the Repatriation Programs
Following the government’s decision to allow residence law violators to leave the country without paying fines, the authorities assigned specific places where they would accommodate the expatriates. The Ministry of Interior Anas Al-Saleh issued the program due to the accumulation of financial fines incurred by them. The administration granted it because of the critical situation the country is experiencing because of the spread of coronavirus.
The Ministry of Interior allocated the specific places where residence law violators can register their names in the Farwaniya governorate. For the male offenders, the Interior Ministry will accommodate them in Al-Muthanna Primary School for Boys while the female offenders will be in the Farwaniya Primary School for Girls.
They also assigned specific dates for each nationality. The Filipinos are from April 1 to April 5, Egyptians are April 6 to April 10, Indians is from April 11 to April 15, Bangladeshis from April 16 to April 20, Sri Lankans from April 21 to April 25, and the rest of the nationalities not mentioned before is from April 26 to April 30, 2020.
I am grateful to the Kuwait government for granting amnesty to the expatriates. It shows the kindness of the authorities for the illegal residency violators. Therefore, these violators must take this chance to visit the designated places in their specified time as they stop hiding in the dark.
Quarantine Protocols on a Building
The Ministry of Health implemented quarantine protocols to a house in Jleeb Al Shuyoukh, occupied by dozens of Asian bachelors where most of them are Indians. The Health Ministry’s decided the implementation because they suspected an Indian expatriate and his wife of being infected with coronavirus disease. With that, they ordered a quarantine protocol to the building for two weeks. The Interior Ministry established police patrols in front of the building, preventing entry or exit from it.
The head of the Union of Workers in Cooperatives Jamal Al-Fadli provided food for the expatriates within the building for two weeks with the coordination of the Farwaniya Security Directorate. The food packages included rice, fruits and vegetables, sauce, frozen chicken, ready-to-eat food, water, and canned foods in large quantities enough for two weeks.
I empathized with the occupants in the building, as they fear to contract the COVID-19 virus. However, I am relieved knowing that the concerned authorities have their back for support. All they need to do is follow the quarantine protocols to ensure the success of containing the virus.
The Advisory from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait
The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait released another advisory of the update of the 2020 Amnesty Program of Kuwait government. It seeks to inform the Filipino community that the said program for the residency visa violators will start on Wednesday of April 1, 2020. The Embassy encourages the undocumented Filipinos and those with absconding cases to visit the following processing centers of the Ministry of Interior from April 1, 2020, to April 5, 2020, at 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The processing center for male Filipinos is the Al Muthanna Primary School for Boys in Farwaniya, Block 1, Street 122, while for the female Filipinos is the Farwaniya Primary School for Girls in Farwaniya, Block 1, Street 76.
The applicants of the amnesty must bring their valid passports with two luggage composed of one 20-kilo bag and one 7-kilo bag for hand carry. If one does not have a passport, then the Embassy requests them to bring three passport-size ID photos with a blue background.
For the issuance of Travel documents, the Embassy will deploy its personnel to the assigned processing centers. One does not need to go to the Embassy anymore for the application of a Travel Document.
After approving their applications, the authorities will not allow them to leave the processing center. They will instead transfer the Filipinos to an MOI designated shelter where they can wait for their available flights back to the Philippines.
Therefore, the Philippine Embassy urges the Filipinos in Kuwait to apply for their implemented amnesty program.
Following the advisory of the Philippine Embassy, they released an infographic to provide more information about the amnesty program. First, amnesty is the government’s decision to forgive those individuals who committed illegal acts in Kuwait. In the said program, the government will pardon the individuals’ offenses due to the illegal overstaying of the expatriates considering that they leave the country from April 1 to April 30, 2020. It is important to take note that it is not a special flight for the stranded individuals in Kuwait due to the thread of COVID-19 disease.
The amnesty includes those individuals who are overstaying or have illegal residency in the country due to the expired residence visa or Civil ID. It also consists of those whose employer has sued them for absconding or being absent from work. However, those individuals who are stranded or have imposed travel ban are exempted from the amnesty program.
If they apply to the program, they will be able to receive temporary shelter and a ticket back home with insurance that they can return to Kuwait. They also do not need to be arrested or pay their fines.
With that, Consul General Mohd. Noordin Pendosina N. Lomondot said that he hopes that all Filipinos will take advantage of the program, like how 5,000 of our fellow kababayans availed the amnesty back in 2018.
Today marks the 20th day of the quarantine and 10th day of the curfew. I am very thankful to the collaboration of the Kuwait government and the Philippine Embassy as they plan to repatriate Filipino Filipinos. Like Lomondot, I also hope that our fellow kababayans will devotedly avail the amnesty for them to be reunited with their families as they return home.
More Repatriation Requests from OFWs
In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 538 new COVID-19 cases with ten additional deaths and seven recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 2,084 with 88 fatalities and 49 recovered cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recorded 368 COVID-19 cases of Filipinos abroad with 117 recoveries, nine fatalities, and 242 patients, who are currently undergoing treatment. Within the death tolls, they recorded six cases from Europe, one from the Asia Pacific region, one from the Middle East, and one from the Americas.
Due to the implemented lockdown in Italy, Philippine Ambassador Domingo Nolasco said that they are evaluating repatriation requests from Overseas Filipino Workers in Italy. He said that they are assessing their requests, whether it is legitimate or not. However, he reassured the public that the Philippine government is prepared to assist the OFWs with their concerns.
The biggest concern of the OFWs in Italy is employment, which is greatly affected by the COIVD-19 health crisis. On the other hand, the authorities repatriated 370 Filipino crewmembers from three cruise ships, which docked in Italy. It followed the repatriated programs of distressed Filipinos from China, Japan, Macao, and the U.S.
The Philippine government is always there for the OFWs, who are working all around the globe. I am confident that the authorities can support the OFWs with the best of their capabilities. We should believe and put our trust in the government, who are working for our return to the Philippines.
“Lumapit kayo sa akin, kayong lahat na nahihirapan at nabibigatang lubha sa inyong pasanin, at kayo’y bibigyan ko ng kapahingahan”Matthew 11:28
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