DFA raises crisis alert level 3 as unrest in Egypt worsensBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised Crisis Alert Level 3 in Egypt Thursday following the recent crackdown of authorities against supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.
The Egyptian government has declared a state of emergency for a month after the outbreak of hostilities in the country’s capital of Cairo where Morsi supporters have been holding a sit-in protest.
The alert level means that the Philippine government will initiate voluntary repatriation of its nationals in Egypt and suspending the deployment of new workers and return flights of Egypt-based Filipino citizens.
“In view of the escalating civil unrest and insecurity as well as the declaration of a month-long State of Emergency in Egypt, DFA Secretary Albert F. del Rosario has, upon the recommendation of the Philippine Ambassador in Cairo, raised crisis alert level 3,” DFA said in a statement released Thursday morning.
“Alert level 3 entails the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos in Egypt. The deployment of new workers, as well as the return to Egypt of vacationing workers, spouses of Egyptian nationals, Islamic University students and their dependents, is likewise suspended,” it said.
At least 300 have been killed with thousands injured from the violence that ensued when police dispersed the protesters. They have been calling for the reinstatement of president Morsi who was ousted in a military coup d’etat last July 3, 2013.
Del Rosario has also instructed the Philippine Embassy in Cairo to extend assistance to all Filipinos in Egypt who wish to come home.
There are about 6,000 Filipinos across Egypt, many of whom are household service workers and skilled employees based in Cairo and Alexandria.
The alert level is the third in a four-tier emergency advisory system for OFWs. Level 4, the highest crisis alert, initiates mandatory evacuation from the area of concern.
Crisis Alert Level 2 was raised over Egypt last July 9 in light of the spiraling unrest in the country between the government and supporters of Morsi.
Several countries have expressed their condemnation of the violent crackdown against the supporters of Morsi.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced the violence and regretted that Egyptian authorities chose to use force to respond to the demonstrations.
Ban is “well aware that the vast majority of the Egyptian people want their country to go forward peacefully in an Egyptian-led process towards prosperity and democracy,” according to a statement from his office.
Ban urged all Egyptians to focus on reconciliation.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the escalating violence had dealt a “serious blow” to political reconciliation efforts between the military-backed interim government and Morsi’s supporters.
“This is a pivotal moment for all Egyptians,” Kerry said. “The path toward violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering.”
The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, “strongly condemned” the violence and called for Egypt’ssecurity forces to “exercise utmost restraint.”
“Only a concerted effort by all Egyptians and the international community might lead the country back on a path to inclusive democracy, and overcome Egypt’s challenges,” she said.
Turkey’s government harshly criticized the crackdown, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office calling the violence “a serious blow to the hopes of a return to democracy.” It also blamed other unnamed countries for encouraging the government after Morsi’s ouster on July 3.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul warned that Egypt could descend into chaos, comparing the clashes to the crackdown in Syria that precipitated a civil war.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the government was “extremely worried” about the “very dangerous” escalation of violence, indirectly criticizing the leadership for its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the “decisive principle” must be “that the human rights of all Egyptians, independent of their political direction and conviction, have to be respected and protected.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the violence is “not going to solve anything.”
“What is required in Egypt is a genuine transition to a genuine democracy. That means compromise from all sides,” he said.
Cameron added that he was sorry to hear about the death of Sky News cameraman Mick Deane in the violence, saying his thoughts are with Deane’s family and friends.
“It is essential that cameramen are in places like Egypt because otherwise none of us would know what is happening.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the crackdown, warning the violence “strengthens the possibility of civil war.”
“While denouncing the violent crackdown and condemning the massacre of the people, it expresses its deep concern regarding the undesirable consequences” of the events, the ministry said in a statement.
France demanded an “immediate end to the repression,” condemning the “the bloody violence” in unusually strong language. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said an “urgent international position” reflecting this must be reached, and called on Ban and Paris’ main partners to contribute.
“The current situation will not be resolved by force,” a statement from Fabius said. He called on all sides to “without delay open a dialogue that includes all Egyptian political forces to find a democratic end to this grave crisis.” The minister said France was immediately available to help bring sides together.
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino appealed to all sides in Egypt to do what they can to immediately stop the explosion of violence and “avoid a bloodbath.”
She added that it was essential that security forces “exercise maximum self-control; likewise, everyone must avoid every incitement to violence.”
The energy-rich Gulf state of Qatar said it “strongly condemns” the violence in Egypt. The Foreign Affairs Ministry urged Egyptian authorities to refrain from security crackdowns on demonstrations. It also said the best way out of the crisis is through peaceful dialogue. With a report from Tarra Quismundo, Associated Press