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48 Filipino victims of human trafficking in Abu Dhabi to arrive home, Friday

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, January 12th, 2018

Forty-eight (48) overseas Filipino workers are set to arrive in the country from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The OFWs hold visit visas and have been victims of human trafficking in Abu Dhabi.

Through the Philippine government’s repatriation program, their documents were processed for them to be able to come home to the Philippines.

Philippine Ambassador to UAE Constancio Vingno Junior said they are taking all the necessary measures to help these OFWs, adding a number of Filipinos are being accommodated in the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

“We can only accommodate so much here, and it’s not a healthy environment if at any more time we had 200 people here. We have so little space that’s why we are trying our best repatriate on a weekly basis,” Ambassador Vingno said.

The new batch of repatriated OFW’s is expected to arrive in the country Friday morning. – UNTV News & Rescue

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Belize under state of emergency; Filipinos warned

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

People gather on a tourist boardwalk in Belize City. Jose Cabezas/REUTERS

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has issued an advisory to overseas Filipino workers in Belize, a country in Central America, following the recent declaration of a state of emergency due to increasing criminal and gang activities.

Filipino Ambassador to Mexico Demetrio Tuason said the declaration was due to six murders recorded between August 31 to September 1.

The DFA said the measure was intended to ensure the safety of the public during Belize’s National Day celebration this month.

The advisory states that: “Under the state of emergency, authorities are authorized to incarcerate suspects for 30 days and suspected or known members of gangs may be detained for up to seven days without specific charges.”

The DFA, citing Philippine Honorary Consul in Belize Mikhal Arguelles, said the situation in Belize City is “calm and peaceful,” except in the two south side communities along George and Banak Streets, where the violence is happening.

There were no Filipinos affected by the violence, so far, but the Embassy asked all 97 Filipinos in Belize to exercise caution at all times. – UNTV News and Rescue

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DFA: P5,000 cash aid available at NAIA Terminals until 10pm, August 24

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2018

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reminds overseas Filipino workers stranded by the runway accident at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to claim their P5,000 cash aid until 10:00 p.m. today (August 24) at all three terminals within the airport complex.

Those outside the airport premises, however, may claim the cash aid at DFA Office of Migrant Workers Affairs in Pasay City only until 5:00 p.m.

Those who already left the country, meanwhile, may claim the cash assistance from Philippine embassies and consulates in their host countries until September 30, 2018.

Based on figures released by the DFA, a total of 559 affected workers availed the cash aid as of yesterday (August 23). – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Trump seeks to revive ‘Arab NATO’ to confront Iran

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Saturday, July 28th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a chart of military hardware sales as he welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties, four sources said.

The plan to forge what officials in the White House and Middle East have called an “Arab NATO” of Sunni Muslim allies will likely raise tensions between the United States and Shi’ite Iran, two countries increasingly at odds since President Donald Trump took office.

The administration’s hope is that the effort, tentatively known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), might be discussed at a summit provisionally scheduled for Washington on Oct. 12-13, several sources said.

The White House confirmed it was working on the concept of the alliance with “our regional partners now and have been for several months.”

Saudi officials raised the idea of a security pact ahead of a Trump visit last year to Saudi Arabia where he announced a massive arms deal, but the alliance proposal did not get off the ground, a U.S. source said.

Sources from some of the Arab countries involved also said they were aware of renewed efforts to activate the plan. Officials from other potential participants did not respond to requests for comment.

“MESA will serve as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism, and will bring stability to the Middle East,” a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said.

The spokesperson declined to confirm that Trump would host a summit on those dates and sources cautioned that it remains uncertain whether the security plan will be finalized by mid-October.

Similar initiatives by previous U.S. administrations to develop a more formal alliance with Gulf and Arab allies have failed in the past.

Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi accuse Iran of destabilizing the region, fomenting unrest in some Arab countries through proxy groups and increasingly threatening Israel.

The alliance would put emphasis on Gulf heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates working closer together with the Trump administration on confronting Iran.

It is unclear how the alliance could immediately counter Tehran but the Trump administration and its Sunni Muslim allies have joint interests in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as defending Gulf shipping lanes through which much of the world’s oil supplies are shipped.

A senior Iranian official told Reuters that “under the pretext of securing stability in the Middle East, Americans and their regional allies are fomenting tension in the region.” He said the approach would have “no result” beyond “deepening the gaps between Iran, its regional allies and the U.S.-backed Arab countries.”

Potentially a big obstacle to the planned alliance is a 13-month-old rift pitting Saudi Arabia and the UAE against Qatar, home to the largest U.S. air base in the region. Other Arab nations have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

While one source said the administration is concerned the quarrel could be an obstacle to the initiative, he and an Arab official both said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had assured Washington the rift would not pose a problem to the alliance.

The NSC spokesperson denied the rift was a hurdle.

As Trump pursues his “America First” policy, the White House is eager to have U.S. allies worldwide shoulder more of the burden in confronting regional security threats.

The UAE is ready to deploy more troops across the Middle East to counter its foes as it believes it can no longer rely on Western allies like the United States and Britain, UAE minister Anwar Gargash said on Thursday.

Setting up a regional anti-missile defense shield, which the United States and Gulf countries have discussed for years without result, would be a goal for the alliance, a source familiar with the plan said, as well as training to upgrade the countries’ militaries.

Tension with Iran has increased since Trump announced in May that the United States was pulling out of a 2015 international deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

On Monday, Iran dismissed a warning from Trump that it risked dire consequences “the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the United States.

Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington, Aziz El Yaakoubi in Dubai and Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; Editing by Alistair Bell

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