The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Monday said it is conducting an in-country evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the escalating tensions in Israel.
OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said the priority of the Philippine government’s offices in Tel Aviv, is to keep Filipinos safe and ensure their well-being especially in conflict-hit areas such as Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod.
“We are providing assistance and conducting in-country evacuation with Israel especially in the areas I mentioned,” he said during the Laging Handa briefing.
Cacdac said there are around 400 Filipinos in these areas.
He said those living in Gaza are not workers but are married to Palestinians.
Cacdac said aside from Philippine offices in the host country, two parishes in the area have been tapped as evacuation centers.
“In general, our OFWs are safe and sound in Israel,” he said.
He added that most of the OFWs in the host country are caregivers and are safe indoors as they are living with their employers.
There are some 30,000 Filipinos working in Israel.
“Our priority is security to ensure that OFWs are free from physical harm. We are providing food assistance and other forms of basic needs. We are not yet in the stage of giving, financial benefits but these are definitely in store once the situation subsides, it also includes those who would like to be repatriated,” he added.
He said all efforts aimed at helping Filipinos in Israel are in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv.
On Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Israel and Palestine to end the “senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror, and destruction” and return to negotiations for a two-state solution to the conflict, which has claimed at least 100 lives since it started last week. SOVEREIGNPH