Group tells OFWS: ‘Keep calm and carry on,’ amid diplomatic crisis in Middle East

Jun. 07, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Keep calm and carry on.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists distressed overseas Filipino workers cited the popular slogan which was featured in posters and coffee mugs worldwide to lessen the fears of OFWs in the Middle East.

This as the diplomatic row between Qatar and Arab and Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and the Maldives continued to escalate.

Former Labor Undersecretary and OFW advocate Susan Ople said “the diplomatic crisis does not involve foreign workers and OFWs are advised to focus on their work and refrain from posting any messages that may be perceived as political in nature.”

Ople also expressed confidence that OFWs in Qatar will show resilience and good judgement amid the growing tensions in the Middle East.

“No one else is more knowledgeable about the prevailing conditions in Qatar other than our own OFWs who have been quietly living and working there for several years,” she said.

She added that the labor department’s move to suspend the deployment of OFWs to Qatar caught the former and other stakeholders by “surprise.”

“We were surprised at the abrupt decision to suspend the deployment of OFWs to Qatar to give way to an assessment of the situation. It is usually the other way around,” Ople said.

The tiny state of Qatar has massive foreign reserves and one of the highest per capita incomes in the region, according to Ople.

She also pointed out that the conflict between Qatar and neighboring countries such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain is “being waged through diplomatic means, and can still be resolved through diplomacy.”

“The best and most reasonable approach would be for the DFA and DOLE to come up with a joint assessment of the situation in Qatar and submit a unified plan of action to the Office of the President for approval,” Ople said, adding that such inter-department coordination would enhance policy coherence and a well-coordinated plan.

“Government response should be calibrated and commensurate to the realities on the ground. So far, the OFWs in Qatar that we have talked to are saying that nothing much has changed in their daily routines,” Ople said. (

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