Kuwait’s foreign minister yesterday condemned what he called an “escalation” by Manila after the Philippines expanded a ban on its nationals working in Kuwait.
Manila on Monday announced a “total ban” on new employment in Kuwait, including Filipinos who had already obtained employment permits but had not yet left for the Gulf country.
The measure came after President Rodrigo Duterte angrily lashed out at Kuwait over reports of Filipino workers suffering exploitation.
“This escalation will not serve the relationship between Kuwait and the Philippines,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah told reporters in Kuwait City.
“We condemn the statements of the Philippine president, especially since we are in contact with the Philippines at the highest level to fully explain the state of the Filipino workforce in Kuwait,” he said, adding that 170,000 Filipinos “live a decent life in Kuwait...but separate accidents unfortunately happen, and we are providing our Filipino counterparts with the results of the investigations.”
Duterte said last week that his government would ask private airlines to evacuate Filipino nationals from Kuwait within 72 hours.
Two planes full of workers arrived in Manila from Kuwait on Monday on flights provided for free by commercial airlines at the president’s request.
On Sunday, the Philippine labour minister said more than 2,200 Filipinos were ready to take up Duterte’s offer.
Authorities say 252,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many as maids.
They are among over 2mn employed in the region, whose remittances are a lifeline to the Philippine economy.
Domestic workers in Kuwait are not covered by ordinary labour legislation.
The Philippine foreign affairs department said on Monday authorities were repatriating 10,000 overstaying Filipinos from Kuwait, taking advantage of an amnesty programme arranged with the Kuwaiti government.
Officials added they were eyeing China and Russia as “alternative markets” for overseas workers.
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