Philippines stops sending workers to Kuwait over abuse fears

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pictured in the Philippines on 20 December 2017.Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines had "lost four women" in Kuwait

The Philippines has suspended sending workers to Kuwait, while it investigates the deaths of several Filipinos there.

The ban comes a day after President Rodrigo Duterte claimed abusive employers in the Gulf state had driven four domestic workers to suicide.

He said he was aware of many Filipina women who had suffered sexual abuse in the oil-rich country.

Kuwait said it had contacted the Philippine authorities over the claims.

Philippines Labour Secretary Silvestre Belo cited a higher number of troubling cases, saying six or seven were being investigated.

Earlier in January, concerns were raised when the remains of a Filipina woman who allegedly killed herself in Kuwait were returned to her hometown. Her family said the body showed signs of abuse and that the woman's organs were missing, Nikkei reports.

There are more than 250,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, according to the Philippines foreign ministry. Most are employed as maids or domestic helpers.

They are among over 2.3 million Filipinos documented as working abroad. Other common destinations include the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Many of those working overseas send their salaries home to the Philippines, with an estimated $2bn (£1.4bn) making it back every month.

These remittances are viewed as a core component of the country's burgeoning economy.