Philippines awaiting Kuwait's explanation for suspending Filipino entrance visas

After Kuwait ceased providing new entry visas for nationals of the Philippines, the government in Manila promised to continue protecting Filipinos working overseas.

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After the Philippines reportedly violated a bilateral labour agreement, on Tuesday the Gulf state stopped all sorts of employment and entry permits for Filipinos, according to sources in the Interior Ministry quoted by the Kuwait Times.

The Kuwaiti government, however, has not made the decision public.

After a dispute between the two nations resulted in a ban on Filipino workers in the Middle Eastern country following the murder of a domestic worker, Kuwait and the Philippines inked a labour agreement to govern domestic workers in 2018.

In a statement released on Friday, the Philippines Department of Migrant Affairs said, "We shall continue to pursue the track of labour diplomacy in ensuring the welfare and safety of our overseas Filipino workers while we await more details as to the rationale and issues surrounding the action of the Kuwaiti government."

The department has stated its willingness to help people affected by the decision made in Kuwait and is currently awaiting further information.

After a 35-year-old Filipina maid was murdered by a Kuwaiti teenager earlier this year, Manila was compelled to reevaluate its labour deal with Kuwait.

After what happened in Kuwait earlier this year, the Philippines banned sending any first-time workers there in February.

Five years after the murder of Filipina domestic servant Joanna Daniela Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer after her employers had slain her, tensions between the two countries have flared up again. It led to diplomatic tensions and the temporary restriction on Filipino employees moving to the Gulf country imposed by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Since 2016, 196 Filipino workers have been reported dead in Kuwait by the Philippines Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Since 2017, the Filipino embassy has received over 6,000 reports of abuse, sexual harassment, and rape.

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