KUWAIT: Undocumented Filipinas wait in a queue outside a school in Farwaniya with their luggage to apply to avail of an amnesty offered to residency violators yesterday. – Photo by Ben Garcia

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Hundreds of undocumented Filipinos in Kuwait flocked to interior ministry centers in Farwaniya yesterday to avail of an amnesty offered to residency violators. Illegal residents have been granted a 30-day period to leave Kuwait without paying fines with free air tickets courtesy of the Kuwaiti government.

Residents of certain nationalities have been given a specific period to process their documents – Filipinos from April 1-5, Egyptians from April 6-10, Indians from April 11-15, Bangladeshis from April 16-20, Sri Lankans from April 21-25 and the rest of the nationalities from April 26-30.

Embassy personnel are posted at the venue to oversee the proceedings. Male applicants should visit Al-Muthanna Primary School for Boys (block 1, street 122), while females should visit Farwaniya Primary School for Girls (block 1, street 76).

Asked about flights scheduled for Filipinos, Philippine Charge d’Affaires Charleson Hermosura said this depends on availability and clearances by both the Philippine and Kuwait airports. “They will be sent on special chartered flights. So we are in close coordination with authorities both in Kuwait and the Philippines, because even back home, no commercial flights are allowed,” he said.

“Kuwait wants an immediate flight to Manila. What will happen today is that we will receive the applications filed with the Kuwaiti ministry of interior personnel. Undocumented Filipinos were instructed to come to the venue with their documents and luggage, because if their application is approved, they will be immediately taken to a holding place, where they have to wait for their scheduled flight to Manila,” he said.

“Amnesty applicants must bring their valid passports, along with two pieces of luggage (20 kg each plus 7 kg hand carry bag). Those who have no valid passports should bring three passport-size photos with a blue background,” the Philippine Embassy advisory reads. Hermosura had called upon all undocumented Filipinos in Kuwait to take advantage of the amnesty granted by the Kuwaiti government. “This is free for all illegals and the air tickets will be shouldered by the Kuwaiti government, so please take advantage of this amnesty.”

Luz from Binan Laguna was among the hundreds in the queue at the venue to take advantage of the amnesty. “I am here because I want to go home to my children in this time of a pandemic. If they die, I will die with them. I just want to see them and be with them and assure them that I am their mother and protect them,” she said.

She had been living in Kuwait for the last five years without a visa. “I stayed with my employer for a year, then ran away because she was very harsh and wasn’t giving me enough food. My agency then sent me to another employer, but my residency couldn’t be transferred because the earlier sponsor wouldn’t cooperate. So I ran away again and looked for part-time jobs. I rented a flat and worked illegally, and have been hiding from the police for the last four years,” she said.

“Now the time has come to go home, I don’t have part-time jobs anymore, plus I am very much concerned about my five kids. I need to be with them because I have heard so much about this virus – I am scared for them,” Luz said.