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Red Cross launches web platform for OFWs, migrant workers

The Philippine Red Cross launched on Monday its first ever web application to help Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipinos planning to migrate to other countries.

The website dubbed as the “Virtual Volunteer” web platform ( aims to become “the source of verified local information” to help OFWs and their families in all stages of migration and provide information to PRC volunteers so they can engage with the Filipino community effectively in any country.

PRC Secretary-General Oscar Palabyab said the application, developed by the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Communities and IBM, will provide an unbiased and reliable information on what to do in case of emergency while in abroad, how to prepare for a new life outside the country and how to protect themselves from trafficking and abuse at any stage.

“It used to be reactive. We react when there is a problem. There must be a technology that will help migrant workers even without shelling a lot of money,” Palabyab recalled on how the project started. “This (app) is preemptive. We prevent the problems from happening,” he said.

“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s providing power to those who want to go abroad. Knowledge is power. We want to give our people those knowledge at their fingertips. It gives our prospective workers the information they need,” Palabyab added.

The web application, available in eight languages, has already been used in Sweden, Greece, Italy, and will be launched today for the first time in Asia and Pacific, said Ezekiel Simperingham, IFRC Regional Migration Coordinator.

Asked to comment about the current services being provided by the Foreign Affairs Department and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Palayabyab said: “I don’t think it’s fair for us to comment on that. What they are doing is probably not enough. The people are not confident to call on the government most of the time. I don’t like to criticize the government but I’m saying there is a need for this. There is a clamor from our migrant workers,” Palabyab said.

He also added there are certain problems when it comes to solving migrant rights issues such as the bureaucracy in different countries.

“Even if such agencies have these hotlines, they still have to go through the bureaucracies of the countries I told you. What we need here is immediate relief to somebody who is about to jump to the window. That’s what we are trying to prevent…By the time the authorities reach the poor migrant workers, she might be dead already. What we want is at the moment of need there is a response right away,” he added. – Inquirer

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