A TOTAL of 33 Filipino workers have been sent home from the Middle East, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said at the weekend, amid tensions between the US and Iran.

The Philippine Consulate General in Dubai was scheduled to send home 24 more distressed Filipino workers to the airport for their flight back home “and a much anticipated reunion with their families and loved ones,” DFA Undersecretary Brigido J. Dulay, Jr. said in a social media post on Saturday evening.

Nine other distressed Filipino migrants were sent back home from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait rescued distressed Filipina household worker Delia Solomon after she sought help on social media. The DFA is expected to repatriate Ms. Solomon this week.

“We are happy to report that she is now sheltered in our embassy and we’re working on reuniting her with her loved ones next week,” Mr. Dulay said in a separate post on Friday.

This comes as the Philippines imposed a total deployment ban on all Filipino workers to Kuwait, which will be in effect until the memorandum of agreement on labor standards between the two countries is fully implemented.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the total deployment ban on Friday. The ban covers both skilled and domestic workers.

The ban was triggered by the National Bureau of Investigation’s findings that Jeanelyn Villavende, a Filipina housemaid working in Kuwait, had been physically and sexually abused.

But a labor group said the total ban would do more harm and could lead to more illegal recruitment cases.

“We are grieving over the death of Jeanelyn Villavende, another name to a very long list of OFWs maltreated and killed by their abusive employers, yet we may be issuing a sentence of slow death to the families of other OFWs who have no other way of feeding their families,” Josua Mata, secretary general of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, said in a statement.

The labor group said the ban could force Filipino workers to enter Kuwait illegally, while those already in Kuwait might stay illegally way beyond their contracts.

This would make it more difficult to track Filipino workers in Kuwait and could further endanger their lives, he said.

“Deployment bans had been issued time and again, but we all know that it is just a knee-jerk reaction whenever the harsh reality of not having enough employment in the country slaps the government in its face,” Mr. Mata said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Gillian M. Cortez