6,000 Pinoys stranded in Mideast due to UAE visa snags

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2008 01:01 AM | Updated as of Sep 26 2008 09:26 AM

Around 6,200 Filipinos are stranded in Oman and Iran due to problems with their visit visas to the United Arab Emirates.

The Filipinos were stranded in several areas in Oman and Iran after their applications for UAE tourist visas were rejected. The rejections came as the Filipinos' visit visas that allowed them to work temporarily in the UAE expired.

Under a new law, visit visas will no longer be renewed. Instead, visit visa holders should apply for entry to the UAE as tourists.

The Filipinos said the visa application process was harder compared to the earlier ruling. Most have been stranded in their hotel rooms for more than a month.

In a forum attended by Manila-based lawyer Adel Tamano recently, relatives and friends of the stranded Filipinos said they are worried about the conditions of their loved ones.

Some pictures sent by the stranded Filipinos showed poor living conditions.

One photograph showed a dozen beds crammed into a single room.

The stranded Filipinos said all they did throughout the day was to wait for the decision on their visa applications.

Even their travel agencies are worried about the conditions, saying many of the stranded Filipinos are suffering too much in their current condition in Iran and Oman.

Tamano said this is already a major crisis.

"That is a humanitarian crisis, six thousand (Filipinos) stranded... Some of them are unable to eat three square meals a day. Our government should be doing something," he said.

Tamano said that 500 of them are stranded in Qeshm, Iran; 3,000 in Kish, Iran; 2,000 in Buraimi, Oman; and 700 in Khasab, Oman.

"Dapat nang kumilos ang gobyerno. They have to do something. Kung di man sa kapatid, eh marami pa rin doon na nagtitiis," said Tomas Atienza, brother of one of the stranded workers.

Tamano added the Philippine government must initiate a dialogue with UAE officials to resolve the crisis.

Meanwhile, relatives of the stranded workers have started a petiton calling for the removal of officials of Philippine embassies in the UAE, Oman and Iran. With a report from Dindo Amparo, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau