Filipinas who fled employers to be flown home on Monday

Ten Filipinas living at the labour-office shelter after fleeing their employers will be flown home on Monday.

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DUBAI // Ten Filipinas who have spent weeks at a labour-office shelter after fleeing their employers will be flown home on Monday, according to a Philippine official. Another eight women left for Manila on Wednesday. They were among 101 Filipinas, mostly housemaids, who fled after complaining of being mistreated, overworked or unpaid.

The women were being counselled at the Dubai shelter which is run by Filipino labour and welfare officers. "We had 85 women before Christmas but during the last week of December, their number rose to 101," Marilyn Vail, the welfare officer at the Philippine overseas labour office in Dubai, said yesterday. The lack of flights and high cost of airline tickets last month had prevented many women being home with their families for Christmas.

"When we visited them to spread some cheer, they told us some already had airline tickets but there were no available flights," said Nhel Morona, the secretary general for Migrante-UAE, a Filipino migrant-rights group. "The tickets were also expensive. Others were waiting for their agency to provide the tickets or for people to donate the tickets." Ms Vail said that before Christmas a one-way ticket on Brunei Airways to Manila cost Dh3,100 (US$844) but after Christmas a Cathay Pacific ticket cost only Dh1,670. She expected prices would soon be Dh1,400 to Dh1,500.

Ms Vail hoped more women would be flown home by the Philippine government. From January to November last year, the Philippine overseas labour office in Dubai repatriated 555 Filipinas, she said. A similar shelter in Abu Dhabi provides refuge to about 130 Filipina housemaids, according to Nasser Munder, the Philippine labour attaché in Abu Dhabi.