The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday has downgraded the crisis alert level in Iraq to 3 or voluntary repatriation, more than a year after it called for the mandatory evacuation of Filipinos due to security threats in the country.
The lowering of the alert level was due to “some improvements in the security situation in the country” and as requested by the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there.
“Filipinos in Iraq are enjoined to continue to exercise caution, restrict movements only to those which are necessary, and keep their communication lines open with the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad,” the DFA said.
The DFA noted that returning OFWs to Iraq are now exempted from the deployment ban, subject to specific conditions listed in the recently issued Governing Board Resolution (GBR) No. 9, series of 2021, of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Under the said resolution, the OFW must be an active worker in Iraq with proof of recent stay there and that he/she is returning to the same employer.
The returning OFW’s worksite must also be outside the no-go zones, namely, the provinces of Anbar, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Mosul; Sard City in Baghdad; and Amedi and Mahkmour in Erbil.
Among others, the POEA requires that the employer sign an undertaking guaranteeing the OFW’s “secured work premises” in Iraq, financial sponsorship as well as facilitation of repatriation covering both the airfares and visa penalties.
The POEA said the returning OFW must not be a household service worker.
Iraq was placed under crisis alert level 4 or mandatory repatriation last January 2020 as tensions escalated in the region following the death of Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds military force, in a United States airstrike on Jan. 3, 2020.
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