KUWAIT: As part of continuing efforts to improve the services of the Philippines Embassy in the Middle East, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) granted a request to provide additional funds for their runaway housemaids’ shelter in Kuwait. The new shelter opened on Monday in Hateen near the Public Authority for Civil Information building.
The new facility includes spacious rooms that can accommodate about 40-50 people, along with rooms for counseling and recreation. The facility is an extension of the embassy’s shelter in Faiha operated under the Philippines Overseas Labor Office, which is already housing more than 100 runaway housemaids. Regular repatriation of housemaids continues, but serious cases sometimes take months if not years to resolve. Philippines Consul General Raul Dado accompanied Filipino media members including Kuwait Times yesterday to inspect the new shelter in Hateen.
Dado said the new facility will serve maids with rape and maltreatment issues. There are about 80,000 Filipina domestic helpers in Kuwait and about 5 to 10 of them abscond daily from their abusive employers for various reasons, usually non-payment of salaries, maltreatment and petty miscommunications. “The sole purpose is to accommodate and bring the victims to a more spacious and accommodating environment. Of course they are abused, so they need to be assisted well and their cases handled properly. This shelter is very welcoming and I hope it will help ease their suffering and sadness,” Dado noted.
The new embassy shelter will also house the Assistance to the Nationals Unit (ATNU) office, the consul general and some lawyers hired to look into their cases. “We want to provide better facilities for abused and maltreated victims – we want them to feel they are cared for and helped and that they are most welcome in this shelter. But due to limited space, for now the new shelter will only house special and grave cases where the abused worker needs strong legal action and lengthy counseling.
Our additional shelter will take care of these types of household service workers,” Dado explained. At least 120 runway housemaids are currently in the old shelter, although around 50 of them are sent regularly to a shelter built by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) in Jleeb. The MSAL shelter accommodates not just Filipina runaway housemaids, but those from other nationalities as well. Last week around 52 Filipina runaway housemaids were repatriated home without passing through the tedious immigration process. Dado helped arranged the repatriation and the embassy’s efforts continue.
By Ben Garcia