12/02/2009, 00.00
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Dubai’s collapse puts the job of 250,000 Filipino workers at risk

by Santosh Digal
Crisis makes debt repayment harder for migrant workers. Some have already gone to jail because of that. Foreign workers represent 80 per cent of Dubai’s workforce.
Manila (AsiaNews) – More than 250,000 Filipinos working in Dubai might lose their job stuck with debts to repay because of the Emirate’s economic collapse, said Susan Ople, from the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, an Ngo that helps Filipino working overseas.

With companies laying off workers and cutting salaries, many Filipinos are forced to rely on bank credit. However, “Falling heavily into debt is a crime in Dubai and, unfortunately, a good number of Filipinos are ensnared in their personal debt traps because of the high cost of living in the emirates,” Ople said. For others, leaving the Emirate is impossible.

Officially, some 350,000 Filipinos work in the United Arab Emirates, half in Dubai.

In Dubai, about 80 per cent of the workforce is composed of foreign workers. Filipinos represent one of the largest communities, employed especially in tourism, one of the first economic sectors to be hit by the crisis.

“The fear of losing job in Dubai or abroad can have greater devastating consequences in the family members at home,” Fr Arsie A. Lumiqued Jr. MSC, professor at the Center For Pastoral Family Mysteries of Jesuit Ateneo de Manila University.

For this reason, the Filipino “government should try to create more job opportunities at home” so that “Filipinos would not look for jobs abroad.”

About 2,000 Filipinos leave the country every day because of high levels of unemployment at home. About 10 million Filipinos live abroad, many illegally. However, the money they send home every year is worth billions of dollars.

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