Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Filipino workers using UAE illegally to travel to banned countries

Filipinos are using the Emirates as a means to travel to banned countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, in search of work.

ABU DHABI // Filipinos are using the UAE as a jumping-off point to get to countries where they are banned from working, a recruitment expert claimed yesterday.

They apply for tourist visas to the UAE, and once here continue on to countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Philippines bans its citizens from working, according to Jose Jacob, the consul at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

The problem persists despite recent controversial efforts to clamp down on people leaving the Philippines on tourist visas.

"The UAE has been a springboard for illegal recruitment," said Victor Fernandez, the president of the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, which represents 700 recruitment agencies. "About 80 per cent of the undocumented workers in Syria are believed to have passed through the UAE."

Border authorities in the Philippines are well aware of the problem. Since August last year, border officials have been ordered to be on the lookout for anyone they suspect is going to work without the proper papers.

Many Filipinos have been barred from boarding their flights, but some manage to get through by bribing officials.

John Leonard Monterona, the Middle East coordinator for rights group Migrante, said Filipinos were driven by "poverty, unemployment and the rising cost of living in the Philippines" to seek jobs in banned countries.

He said they would continue to find ways to circumvent the law to support their families, including travelling to the UAE and later flying to a banned country where there are job opportunities.

On Wednesday, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), which monitors overseas employment, released resolutions, one approving Filipinos' deployment to 49 countries and banning them from 41 countries including Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Pakistan.

The five other GCC countries, including the UAE, are not on either list. Oman was on an earlier list of approved countries.

Philippines law allows its people to work in a country only if it has legal protections for workers' rights.

The UAE is currently regarded as "partially compliant", as it legally enshrines the rights of most workers but not domestic staff.

Earlier this year it voted for an international convention on rights for domestic staff, but it has yet to give that convention the force of law.

The Philippines foreign affairs department has recommended a ban on workers coming here, but the POEA has deferred a ruling for at least six months.

 

rruiz@thenational.ae

 

@ For more on LABOUR, visit thenational.ae/topics

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Retreat at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa will screen IPL games on request. Lee Hoagland / The National

Top five places to catch an IPL game in the UAE

Enjoy all the 20/20 cricket action at a sports lounge near you – whether in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain or Dubai

This April 17 don’t take our word, we’ll take yours

Have a catchy caption for our picture above? Share it with us.

 Fans braved long queues and early morning hassles to buy IPL tickets in person rather than buy them online, such has been the enthusiasm for the tournament. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Love it, hate it but IPL is too big to be ignored

The tournament steamrolls its way through life perennially from the throes of extinction to the prospect of expansion; alive one moment through its on-field spectacle, dying the next because of another off-field wrangle.

 An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi. Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP

How Flappy Bird made app developer $50,000 a day

The game propelled the unknown Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen to rock-star status.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 A view of a defaced portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an anti-North Korean rally on the 102nd birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung in central Seoul. Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

Best photography from around the world today

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National