Filipinos in Yemen advised to stay home ahead of March 25 protests
MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos in Yemen are advised to stay home this Friday and Saturday and to restrict their movement ahead of clashes expected from the protests set on March 25, the Department of Foreign Affairs said, quoting the Philippine Embassy in Sana.
Yemen opposition groups called on protesters to march to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Sanaa palace on Friday to demand his resignation.
“The Embassy team sent an advisory by email and SMS to the Filipino community in Yemen through their area coordinators on Wednesday, advising them to stay at home over the weekend and restrict their movement,” Charge d’Affaires (CDA) to Riyadh Ezzedin Tago said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario visited Yemen on March 20 to assess the situation and to revalidate the Embassy team’s contingency plan for the Filipino community in Yemen, the DFA said.
He met and had a working dinner with Yemeni Foreign Minister Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi in Sanaa. The Foreign Minister assured Secretary Del Rosario that the Yemeni government was committed to protect and ensure the safety of Filipinos in Yemen, it said.
Tago and a four-man team from the Embassy in Riyadh are in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to implement the contingency plan in Yemen, it said.
Another three-man team from the Philippine Consulate General, led by Vice Consul Lorenzo Rhys Jungc, is in Aden for the same purpose, it said.
Alert level to 2 (restricted movement) was raised in light of increasing tensions in Yemen on March 15, the DFA said.
It asked Filipinos in the country to actively monitor ongoing developments; keep their communications lines open with the Embassy in Riyadh and their designated community coordinators; inform the Embassy or Filipino community coordinators assigned to their area of their whereabouts; keep an emergency bag ready which contains clothing, water, canned goods and medicine good for two weeks, for themselves and for their family members, and; have important documents such as passports and money ready and at hand.
As early as February 25 and upon consultations with the DFA, an Embassy team led by Third Secretary and Vice Consul Paul Saret was dispatched to Yemen to assess the security situation and make necessary preparations to ensure the safety and well-being of Filipinos, the DFA said.
The team met with the Filipino community there and briefed them of the contingency plan. They also updated the operations side of the contingency plan such as designation of community coordinators, identified convergence, relocation, holding and evacuation sites, and resource inventory of transportation and communications, as well as of other requirements, it said.
The team also updated the directory of Filipinos in the country, as well as provided consular assistance for passports and travel documents, it said.
They also met with Yemeni officials, as well as International Organization from Migration and representatives of Asean embassies in the country to coordinate with them and get their views on the current political situation in Yemen, it said.
Augmentations teams from the Department of Labor and Employment and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Riyadh also went to Yemen to assist in the effort, it said.
Currently, the Embassy is operating a 24/7 coordinating center and monitoring developments. It has also designated substitute composite teams to prepare required documentation such as validation of passports, obtaining exit/reentry visas from host governments and obtain visas to Yemen, it said.
Additional officers and staff from the Embassy and the Consulate General are on standby in case more personnel are needed, the DFA said.
The Embassy hotline numbers for Yemen are +966-536-881-787 and (01) 482-3559.