MANILA, Philippines (CORRECTED) – Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Iraq are appealing to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to lift the deployment ban on Iraq so they can join their families in the Philippines for Christmas.
More than 600 OFWS who work with American military personnel in Iraq are affected by POEA's deployment ban against 18 countries, which also includes Afghanistan. There are about 250 U.S. military personnel in Iraq training and assisting the Iraqi military. The U.S. does not have any bases in Iraq.
But according to recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani, the POEA allows returning workers from Afghanistan to go back to their job sites. Iraq OFWs who return to the Philippines are now prevented from going back to their Iraq job sites because of the ban.
Last September 2011, the POEA Governing Board allowed for a partial lifting of the deployment ban for workers inside US facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. This allowed over 6,000 OFWs from Afghanistan and 1,000 more from Iraq to come home last year, and then to return to their job sites.
But last February, POEA again imposed a total deployment ban in Iraq because of the "expected surge of terrorism and sectarian violence... following the withdrawal of US military forces."
Only the Kurdistan region was exempted from the deployment ban.