June 7, 2017 / 10:45 AM / in 2 years

Philippines allows workers to return to Qatar

MANILA (Reuters) - Filipinos who have job contracts in Qatar will be allowed to go there, the Philippine labor secretary said on Wednesday, scrapping a previously announced ban on the deployment of workers there.

Silvestre Bello said the processing of new applications would remain temporarily suspended as the government awaits “further developments” following the severing of diplomatic ties with Qatar by the Arab world’s biggest powers.

Bello banned workers going to Qatar on Tuesday but he told Reuters he had been assured by Philippine labor officials in Qatar that conditions there were “normal” and that there was no reason to be concerned about safety.

More than 2 million people from the Philippines are working in the Middle East as domestic helpers, construction workers, engineers and nurses, with Qatar hosting 250,000 and Saudi Arabia hosting almost a million.

Filipinos working in the Middle East sent home $7.6 billion in remittances in 2016, making the region a major source of foreign exchange inflows, which help drive one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.

Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Robert Birsel

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