Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Filipino workers were treated like
animals, locked in a cell for days with their feet shackled, this
according to 30 Filipino migrants deported by the Saudi government after an after
amnesty for undocumented foreigners ended on Sunday. The
Filipino government estimates that at least 6,700 undocumented Filipino workers
are held in prison in Jeddah and other cities of the Islamic country.
"They treated us
like animals," said domestic helper Amor Roxas, 46, who talked about her ordeal
after returning home with 29 other Filipinos. Saudi police rounded people up
and placed them in a crowded cell for four days, she explained, without any
possibility of outside assistance.
"Our feet were
chained," added Yvonne Montefeo, 32. Saudi authorities, she said, shackled them
fearing they might escape.
International, a support group for Filipino overseas workers, said 1,700 other
workers are stranded in Jeddah waiting to be deported. An additional 5,000 are held
in Riyadh, Al Khobar and Dammam.
rights organisation warned that Filipinos are in danger of violence and
arbitrary detention by Saudi authorities.
President Jejomar Binay, who is also presidential adviser on migrant affairs,
last week appealed to the Saudi government to extend its deadline, noting that
"thousands are still hoping to correct their employment status".
About 300,000 Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia, exploited and poorly paid, as
well as victims of verbal and physical abuse because of their Christian faith.
crackdown on undocumented workers began in January of this year, but was
suspended for a few months to allow millions of migrant workers get a permit.
Filipino authorities, more than 4,000 Filipinos have been
repatriated since the crackdown was announced.