OFWs in Egypt urged anew to cooperate in ongoing evacuationBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has renewed government’s call for Filipinos in Egypt to cooperate in the ongoing mandatory evacuation, citing the worsening instability in the Arab country.
The Philippine Embassy in Cairo also advised Philippine citizens across Egypt to immediately contact the post to sign up for repatriation and stay indoors while awaiting evacuation as the strife-torn country remains under a state of emergency.
“Our two visits in Cairo within the last 12 days to assess the security situation have convinced us that the marked deterioration in peace and order, exacerbated by complex political challenges has called for the raising of our alert level to mandatory repatriation,” said Del Rosario, who arrived this week from his second visit to Cairo.
He ordered the declaration of Crisis Alert Level 4 for some 6,000 Filipinos in Egypt on Monday after seeing for himself that the situation was no longer safe.
Government also has a standing order barring the deployment of new workers to Egypt and the return of Egypt-based Filipinos currently on vacation out of the country.
“This is the highest level possible, and we therefore strongly urge our countrymen in Egypt to register with the Philippine Embassy in Cairo for early repatriation,” said Del Rosario.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said only trickles have signed up for repatriation as Filipinos in Egypt were still reluctant to leave their place of employment. Most Filipinos in Egypt are employed as skilled and household service workers in Cairo and Alexandria.
The DFA is currently arranging the repatriation of at least 16 Filipinos from the Arab country, the second batch of returnees following the group of five who arrived Wednesday.
Up to 900 have died across Egypt this month amid clashes between security forces and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
One Filipino-Egyptian teenager was hit by a stray bullet on August 15 near her home in Helwan, Cairo, where frequent clashes have occurred. She is known to be recovering from her wound.
Philippine Embassy officials are also working with Egyptian authorities to determine the identity of a body found in a suitcase at a dump in Nasr City, Cairo on Aug. 18.
Authorities are checking if the body belongs to the Filipino worker who has been missing since Aug. 12 and if the death is related in any way to the political violence there.
On its Facebook page, the Philippine Embassy in Cairo also urged Filipinos around Egypt to get in touch with the mission and be vigilant about their personal safety.
“We advise our citizens to continue to be careful and alert about their surroundings. Avoid going out and observe the state of emergency and curfew in Egypt,” said the Embassy advisory.
“Be observant and follow developments in the news. Contact the Embassy if you have any information on fellow Filipinos affected by violence,” it said.