Stranded Filipinos in UAE told to apply for repatriation flights

Thousands of Filipinos sign online petition to lift travel ban from UAE to Philippines

Filipinos stranded in the UAE because of the extended travel restrictions imposed by the Philippine government can apply to be included in the three remaining available repatriation flights this month.

A chartered flight funded by the Philippine government is scheduled to leave Dubai on Monday, July 12, but it is already fully booked. Limited seats, however, are still left for the repatriation flights scheduled on July 17, July 27 and July 30.

Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News: “The Philippine missions in the UAE continue to receive requests for repatriation and the Philippine government is working on all possible options to accommodate these requests in the soonest possible time.”

“They (stranded Filipinos) can send in their google forms for inclusion in our repatriation list and the Consulate will schedule their return according to the repatriation flight schedules as coordinated by the DFA (Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs) in Manila,” he added.

Priority list

According to a joint advisory released by the Philippine missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, seats are limited and priority will be given to medical patients with no health insurance; pregnant women on their third trimester with no medical insurance; families with children; and those with expired or expiring visas who do not have the ability to apply for a temporary visa.

Those who wish to apply for repatriation may send an email to [email protected] for those living in Abu Dhabi and [email protected] for those residing in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

Cancel travel plans

Because of the travel restrictions, the Philippine missions have asked their countrymen to forego any plans of travelling home “unless absolutely necessary.”

Around 350 people can be accommodated in each repatriation flight and the Philippine Consulate in Dubai has an allocation for only 200 passengers. The most recent repatriation flight was on June 30, carrying 349 passengers aboard Philippine Airlines (PAL flight PR8659).

Extended travel ban

Regular commercial flights between the UAE and Philippines are cancelled until July 15, following the decision by the Philippine government to “extend the ban on travellers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman and the UAE until July 15.”

The Philippine government had first imposed restrictions on inbound travel from the seven countries from May 15 until May 31, in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant that first emerged in India. The travel ban was first extended until June 15, then stretched until June 30 before prolonging it further until July 15.

#LiftUAEBan

Meanwhile, thousands of stranded Filipinos have signed an online petition seeking to lift the travel restrictions imposed by Manila immediately.

Until Friday, the online petition titled ‘Lift the UAE ban! It’s our right to go home’, has garnered around 3,400 virtual signatures.

Their statement read: “We the overseas Filipino citizens based and working in the UAE, would like to call upon the Philippine government to hear our voice to lift the travel ban from UAE to Philippines.

“We Filipinos citizens have the rights to come home to our own country and without any difficulties in travelling. We Filipino citizens in the UAE are vaccinated and safe.”

“Let us join and gather signatures so that the Philippine government hear our voices to lift the ban for us overseas Filipino Workers and Filipino Nationalities travelling from the UAE to the Philippines. Let’s fight for our rights #LiftUAEban.”

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