Conflict & Justice

Filipinos working in Syria risk violence for pay


A protester in the flahspoint central Syrian city of Homs throws a tear gas bomb back towards security forces, on December 27, 2011. The commander of the rebel Free Syria Army threatened to escalate attacks against government forces if Arab League monitors did not solve the crisis in Syria.



Most foreigners in Syria would leap at the chance to flee the nation, which appears on the brink of all-out civil insurrection.

But not the Filipinos. Even though their government has demanded they return home, according to Manila's ABS-CBN News, few are budging.

Only about 10 percent, according to the outlet, have accepted free repatriation offers.

Why won't they take off?

The answer is partly explained by devotion to family. Across wealthier nations in the Middle East, Filipinos (along with Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and many other nationals) work menial jobs and send home cash that can support an entire family.

So even if Filipino workers did catch a free ride home, they might find themselves in a home with a family that had just lost its chief breadwinner.

Avoiding that scenario is apparently so important that many Filipinos are holding fast to their jobs -- even those located in areas where diplomats are now forbidden.

This scenario brings to mind the recent revolt in Libya, which forced up to 150,000 foreigners (many from the Philippines) to make the same difficult decision.