30 April 2016
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    » 11/05/2013, 00.00

    SAUDI ARABIA - PHILIPPINES

    Thousands of Filipino migrants treated "like animals" by Saudi authorities



    More than 6,700 Filipino workers are detained across the country. The first who returned home tell stories of violence and abuses by police. On Sunday, Riyadh began its crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The step was supposed to begin last January but was suspended until now to allow workers to apply for amnesty.

    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.

    Migrante 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.

    The migrant rights organisation warned that Filipinos are in danger of violence and arbitrary detention by Saudi authorities.

    Filipino Vice 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.

    Saudi Arabia's 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.

    According to Filipino authorities, more than 4,000 Filipinos have been repatriated since the crackdown was announced.

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    See also

    05/06/2010 PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA
    Filipino nurses in Riyadh against the centre of assistance to migrants: they have abandoned us
    Head of Overseas Workers Employment Assistance Administration in Riyadh under accusation. Instead of helping abused nurses he demands they return to work. The 30 women were repatriated in March and worked for Annasbah, a Riyadh company known for ongoing abuses against employees. Now fears for the fate of 30 other companions still blocked in the Saudi capital.

    07/10/2010 PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA
    Saudi Arabia: conditional release for 12 Filipinos accused of proselytizing
    The Catholic migrants are currently in the custody of their employers at the disposition of authorities. Saudi religious police (Muttawa) arrested them last October 1 for taking part in a Mass celebrated by a French priest. 150 other foreign Catholics were with them, whose fate remains unknown.

    28/01/2010 PHILIPPINES – SAUDI ARABIA
    Christian Filipino migrants forced to convert to Islam
    A Filipino nurse with ten years in Saudi Arabia talks about the dramatic situation of Christian workers, forced to embrace Islam just to keep their job. Despite abuses and violence, migrants still choose the Middle East because of the availability of work.

    25/02/2016 14:24:00 PHILIPPINES
    Bishop of Balanga: Save 90 Filipino migrants on death row

    Msgr. Santos, President of the Commission for the care of migrants: "The time has come ease the suffering of these people. The government cannot abandon them. " At least 3,800 Filipino workers are imprisoned abroad, 90 of them on death row, 41 in Malaysia and 27 in Saudi Arabia. Two days ago Joseph Urbiztondo, detained for 25 years in Kuwait, was able to pay the "blood money" and save his life.



    22/02/2010 PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA
    Catholic migrant in Saudi Arabia: Three years without a day of rest and mass
    In the Islamic country there is no freedom of religion. In order to keep her faith alive the woman took refuge in her room to pray. Filipino bishops call on the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad.



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