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Undocumented Saudi OFWs recruited in Afghanistan - group

MANILA, Philippines - Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in Saudi Arabia are being recruited to work in a US military in Afghanistan, a migrant workers' rights group disclosed today.

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Monterona said they received reports that there are about 200 OFWs who have been hired to work in Afghanistan.

The information came from undocumented OFWs who were given assistance by the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (Brotherhood in the Middle East), the Riyadh-based chapter of Migrante.

Monterona said the first batch of an undisclosed number of recruited OFWs was deployed to Afghanistan weeks ago.

"They were recruited by individuals who introduced themselves [as] former military officials," Monterona said.

He said that the recruits were told that they will be given 50,000 Saudi rials (roughly P560,000) prior to their deployment to Afghanistan, but the 40,000 SR will be sent to their dependents in the Philippines.

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He said the recruitment is a clear case of human smuggling as the OFWs are mostly undocumented.

"The recruits, mostly undocumented OFWs, were offered a monthly salary of US$3,000," Monterona added.

He said the recruitment of OFWs to Afghanistan was reinforced by the Philippine government's "partial lifting" of the deployment ban in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On September 2, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board passed the resolution, allowing OFWs already deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq to continue their work until the completion of their contracts.

The POEA called it a ‘partial lifting’ of deployment ban as it will only allow those OFWs working in US military bases.

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