Archive for the ‘conflict’ Category

In war-battered Gaza, Filipinos mull on the price of working abroad

January 11, 2009

With no end in sight, the red-hot Israel-Palestinian conflict completes its second week on January 11, 2009 with nearly 900 reported dead and many more wounded, about half of them are innocent non-combatants of war. Regardless of which side we may be in the decades-long hostilities, the clear message is that racial intolerance, religious bigotry, and territorial disputes don’t bring any good.

The duplicity in the exercise of diplomacy, the use of terrorism, and the rejection of a two-state solution by hardliners remain as huge stumbling blocks in bringing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The interference of countries that benefit from an unstable Middle East is partly to blame.

Civilians living in the Gaza Strip are in a crossfire that disrupts their lives and threatens their survival. In the bloody exchanges of a protracted cycle of violence, the innocents bear undeserved suffering. Among them are workers and migrants from the Philippines who come to this troubled part of the world mainly for economic reasons.

We can only sympathize with our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who put their lives on line to seek ways to survive and help their families back home. We can only ask for the cessation of the killings—an immediate ceasefire which is unheaded at this time.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA,) 16 Filipinos have left the war-torn area and arrived in Manila. Of the 121 still left in Gaza, 69 expressed their desire to evacuate, but the fierce fighting prevents them to do so. It is uncertain if this number includes the illegal Filipinos workers who take risky jobs in the shadows.

This brings us to the problem of our government which sorely lags behind in helping the people to be self-sufficient back home. If jobs and economic opportunities exist in the country, then there are few reasons for our kababayans to insist working in dangerous places like the Middle East. The cost to pay for family separations, isolation, and loneliness is incalculable. It’s sad that our cash-strapped government is in a losing policy of sending Filipinos abroad for the money they’ll earn for the nation’s economy. With no sign of stopping, our workers continue to suffer on their own, at times trapped in harm’s way.

Just to land a job, no matter how menial, has been a source of hope and pride among poor Filipinos who ignore the risks of travel outside the country. Yet, this is the reality of our society faces. Adding to the 10 million Filipinos already deployed abroad, a restless stream still wants to leave for the money.

The government must do better than what our officials think is good enough. There will be a season that host countries won’t justly pay for the services of Filipinos. To keep the country economically alive there’ll be a time when going abroad will be one of our most dreaded options. (Photo Credits: Aryty; Rusty Stewart x 7 photos) =0=

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Israeli air strikes leave 200+ dead in Gaza Strip

December 27, 2008

As Pope Benedict XVI calls for renunciation of violence during the holy season of Christmas, Israelis and Palestinians are on a bloody confrontation again in the Gaza Strip leaving at least 200 dead and injuring about 400 more. This is the result of heavy air strikes conducted by Israeli troops against militant Palestinian targets in Hamas-dominated territory a week after a 6-month ceasefire truce expired.

The resumption of bombings and killings on Saturday, December 27, 2008, is supposed to be Israel’s retaliation to months of Hamas’ mortar fires and indiscriminate rocket launches which terrorize about ¼ million Israelis who live in the area.

Hamas infrastructures and installations had been destroyed and many security officers were killed or hurt. Gaza residents had been on the state of panic as the death toll rose and the wounded victims flooded hospitals and clinics.

“The offensive sparked angry protests throughout the Arab world, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Vatican, the U.N. secretary-general and special Mideast envoy Tony Blair all called for an immediate restoration of calm. The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the situation.”— YahooNews.com; AP (12/28/08 Barzak, Brahim)

Hamas, the radical group considered by Israel as a terrorist organization, called for revenge, but Isreali military authorities had been firm in their stance. In spite of the call for calm, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed to widen the military offensive if needed. Israel did not set a time-line on when the air strikes would end.

The long-standing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians has taxed peace-makers for decades, but a solution has been consistently elusive. Extremist Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East who support the Palestinians call for the annihilation of the State of Israel. (Photo Credits: AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AFP; AP/ Mohammed Zastari) =0=

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