Unless the security for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and even other nationalities will improve in Iraq, the Philippine government plans to continue imposing a deployment ban to the Middle East country.
The ban has been in force for many years. As of 2018, the Philippines has imposed a total deployment ban on nine countries due to their unstable peace and order situation. These countries include not just Iraq but also Afghanistan, Great Lakes Region (Rwanda and Burundi), Syria, Somalia, Sudan (except Khartoum and Kenana Sugar Plantation in the White Nile), Yemen, and Chechnya Republic.
But the supposedly ‘total deployment ban’ has been partially lifted after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) decided to exempt some workers from the ban.
According to POEA Memorandum Circular No. 17, Series of 2018, the following workers are exempted from the ban:
- OFWs working in companies holding Iraqi government contracts
- OFWs working for the governments of member-states of the International Coalition, the United States, the United Nations, and other international organizations and non-government organizations
- OFWs working as private staff to senior officials of the Iraq government and foreign diplomats in Baghdad
Workers returning to areas certified as safe by the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad are also exempted from the ban, such as those working in:
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) estimates that there are around 4,000 OFWs working in Iraq; around 3,000 of these workers are in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
As of December 2018, the DFA has issued notice to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) that the Crisis Alert Level 4 (Mandatory Repatriation) in Iraq has been lowered to Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation).
The following remain under the deployment ban:
- newly-hired or returning household service workers and domestic workers
- newly hired or returning workers intending to live and work in no-go areas in Northern Iraq (Anbar, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Salahuddin)