DFA: OFWs in West Africa don’t want to go home, believe they’re safe from Ebola
MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos in West Africa don’t want to be repatriated despite the continued rise in the number of infections and deaths from the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday.
“Although it is our mandate to look after their welfare and promote their safety, we are also sensitive to their demands,” Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said in a briefing Friday.
“There are strong views from our Filipinos against repatriations. They believe they are safe,” he said.
Last August 24, Jose said in a statement that they were “preparing for the implementation of mandatory repatriation” of Filipinos in West Africa because of the continued threat posed by EVD.
Asked when it would be implemented, Jose said: “Very soon.”
The DFA, however, shifted gears, saying that they are re-assessing the plan to raise Crisis Alert Level 4 and implement a total deployment ban with mandatory repatriation following the views of other concerned government agencies.
“It’s not the DFA who decides alone. We are still in consultations to get an agreement from all [agencies about raising alert level],” Jose said.
Asked whether the DFA was waiting for a Filipino to be infected with Ebola before ordering their repatriation, Jose said, “That’s our point, do we have to wait for someone to be infected before we raise the alert level?”
“But there are many consequences that have to be considered, such as the deployment ban, which many are not agreeing to because there are many implications for them. They make their views known, and we take them into account,” he said.
As of Aug. 31, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded 3,600 cases of EVD while there were more than 1,800 death a putting the case fatality rate at 50 percent.
The countries worst-hit by EVD are Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. There have also been recent cases recorded in Nigeria and Senegal.
The transmission of EVD comes from close direct contact with an infected person. There have been many cases of health care workers contracting the virus because they were treating the sick patients.
“There are no Filipinos working in hospitals there, so they feel they will not be infected,” Jose said.
Planned repatriation of OFWs in West Africa put on hold