Amnesty rumors sparks increase in runaway maids in Kuwait
KUWAIT: Rumors that amnesty has been granted by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to illegal expatriates in Kuwait have been circulating since the end of Ramadan. Rumors have been transferred from one person to another using SMS messages addressed to the many illegal expatriates.
The embassy’s Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Jabriya has blamed rumors for the unprecedented increase of runaway housemaids being sheltered at their embassy in recent days. The fact is that I noticed an increase in runaway housemaids over the last couple of days," said the embassy’s Welfare Officer, Yolanda Penaranda, as she spoke with the Kuwait Times yesterday.
Penaranda stopped short of connecting the increase of runaway housemaids being sheltered at the embassy to amnesty, but explained that the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) in Jabriya usually only maintains around 150-170 people.
However, when the rumors started at the end of Ramadan, the FWRC has since maintained a record of 200 runaway housemaids that are increasing every day. The highest was recorded last week with 216 people in the wards. We managed to lower the number to about 200 or less since we have a regular repatriation," she said.
According to her, the number is quite abnormal and confirms that rumors of amnesty could influence the decision of many housemaids to run away. One of the illegal expatriates who actually received an SMS message said, "I received three SMS messages from my friends telling me that amnesty will start on October 15. I am particularly excited because I want to go home because I have been in Kuwait illegally since 2005. I don’t know whether the message is true, which is why I tried to confirm it with embassy officials.
Philippine Labor Attach to Kuwait, Josephus Jimenez, cautioned Filipinos about the rumor of amnesty. "The rumor is untrue. Don’t believe rumors and text messages alone. The amnesty is an act of grace by HH the Amir of Kuwait to illegal expatriates in Kuwait. All we can do is wait, hope and pray," he said. The Philippine embassy’s POLO office reiterated their continuous repatriation of their stranded Filipinos at the embassy on a regular basis, with or without amnesty.
‘Task Force Quick Repatriation’ is now being mobilized to help our fellow Filipinos to be reunited with their families. This, however, is always on a case by case basis. If they have passports and no legal cases filed against them, they can easily be repatriated. Also, during times of natural calamities like typhoons, we prioritize those Filipinos who are badly hit by the typhoons back in the Philippines and we try to help them.
Dr. Chie of Umandap, the leader of a donation drive, said that if there are housemaids who are badly affected by the typhoons, we could perhaps send them home with goods given to them from the donation drive. They’ll all be repatriated with the goods," he said.
Ben Garcia, Staff Writer