The Philippines has added five GCC countries to its “safe” list of destinations for its overseas workers, officially recognising all countries in the Gulf as suitable for Filipinos to work.
The UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait were added to a list approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Oman has been listed on several previous editions.
Partial or total bans remain in place for Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen due to “armed conflict”, while the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has yet to complete a review for Iraq and Libya, said the POEA.
The Philippines, which relies heavily on remittances from its overseas workers, introduced a ruling in 2010 that only allows its citizens to work abroad if the host country has regulations in place to protect workers’ rights.
The DFA must certify that a country has enough protection in place for its migrant workers before it is added to the POEA list of approved countries.
An estimated ten percent Filipinos work overseas in largely low-skilled jobs such as maids and construction workers.
Overseas workers are a valuable source of foreign exchange reserves and help reduce unemployment. Last year foreign workers sent US$18.17bn back to the Philippines, equivalent to ten percent of the country’s GDP.
The GCC relies heavily on foreign workers to fill jobs at all levels of the economy but protection of migrant workers has become a particular bone of contention following reports of poor working conditions and low pay.
Saudi Arabia placed a ban on recruiting workers from the Philippines and Indonesia after the countries sought to impose stricter employment conditions in the kingdom.