MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday reiterated that a mandatory repatriation is in place in Iraq after reports that many Filipinos still being deployed in the country.
"We already raised alert level 4 all over Iraq, that was some weeks back, and level 4 means its total deployment ban both for with existing work contracts and new hires," explained DFA Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said.
Jose said that the implementation of the program "basically lies with our immigration authorities as well as with our labor officials".
The DFA raised the highest alert level in Iraq last June due to the "rapidly deteriorating situation" in the country.
"In Iraq, at the start of the crisis, we estimated there were about 900 Filipinos there. But most of them, about 800, are in the Kurdistan area which is a relatively a safe place," Jose said.
Jose added that about 152 Filipinos are estimated to be in the Baghdad area.
"Of this number, we have already brought back only 6. So there are still about 149 Filipinos in the Baghdad area that we are targeting to bring back home," he said.
He said the embassy will find ways to bring out Filipinos who have signified their intention to go home.
"Our OFWs in Iraq, those who would like to avail of our repatriation program, all they have to do is get in touch with our embassy in Baghdad, although they don't have to be physically there. On our website, we have indicated there hotlines, telephone numbers as well as the email address and they can get in touch with our embassy and register their name and our embassy will find a way to get them out of their location and bring them out of the country," he said.