By Marita Moaje

SAFE. The Department of Migrant Workers welcome five overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Haiti who safely returned to the country on Tuesday evening (July 2, 2024). The five are part of the 63 OFWs who voluntarily requested for repatriation to avoid the violence and lawlessness in the Caribbean country. (Photo courtesy of DMW)

MANILA – Five overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from violence-stricken Haiti safely returned to the country on Tuesday evening.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said this is the first batch of OFW repatriates from Haiti amid the worsening situation that has led to thousands of casualties and displaced people.

DMW Assistant Secretary Jerome Alcantara said the five are part of the 63 OFWs who voluntarily requested for repatriation to avoid the violence.

Upon their arrival, Alcantara said the five OFWs, who are mostly professionals, were immediately provided financial assistance by the DMW, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Also on hand were Department of Health personnel who provided immediate onsite health assessment, he added.

Alcantara said the DOH is also offering mental health checkups for the repatriates.

Based on Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) data, there are 169 OFWs in the Caribbean country, of which 63 signed up for voluntary repatriation.

Last month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said violence and lawlessness have reached terrifying levels in Haiti.

It said Haiti’s hunger crisis is escalating rapidly with nearly 5 million people, or almost half of the country’s population, facing acute food insecurity.

“Around 185,000 people are displaced in the Metropolitan Area of Port-au-Prince – two-thirds of them living in spontaneous sites with very limited access to basic services,” the UNFPA said.

In March, DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo approved the recommendation to declare Alert Level 3, or the voluntary repatriation for Filipinos in Haiti.

On June 10, the DMW announced the suspension of processing and deployment of both new hires and returning OFWs to Haiti.

Meanwhile, Alcantara said families and relatives of OFWs in Haiti may contact the OWWA Hotline One Repatriation Center by calling 1348, and is open 24 hours for updates on their loved ones currently in the Caribbean country. (PNA)