16 OFWs return home from Israel
This picture taken on Oct. 11, 2023 shows an aerial view of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the Jabalia camp for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City. Israel declared war on Hamas on October 8 following a shock land, air and sea assault by the Gaza-based Islamists. The death toll from the shock cross-border assault by Hamas militants rose to 1,200, making it the deadliest attack in the country’s 75-year history, while Gaza officials reported more than 900 people killed as Israel pounded the territory with air strikes. AFP / Yahya Hassouna

MANILA, Philippines — The first batch of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Israel has returned safely to the Philippines.

According to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), 16 OFWs and a baby were repatriated on Wednesday, October 18.DMW said that it will provide assistance to the newly-arrived OFWs.

“The DMW, with various government agencies, will provide immediate assistance and other forms of support, including psycho-social counseling, stress debriefing, medical referral, and temporary accommodation to the OFWs while awaiting transit to their respective provinces,” the agency said in a statement.

This is the first batch of OFWs to return to the country since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

However, there are still Filipinos waiting for repatriation, specifically at the Rafah border, serving as the exclusive gateway between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

On October 13, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega reported that 92 Filipinos are currently awaiting repatriation at the Rafah border, but the Philippine Embassy is unable to proceed due to the border closure.

In a statement on Monday, the DFA said they are coordinating with Egypt and Israel to explore the possibility of establishing a humanitarian corridor at the Rafah border, in order to facilitate the safe repatriation of Filipinos.

Neither both countries had announced any intention to open the said border.As of writing, US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel to prevent the war with Hamas from developing into a larger conflict according to reports. — with reports from Agence France-Presse.