Filipinos in Egypt told again: Leave nowBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has renewed his call on Filipinos in Egypt to leave that country, citing the worsening violence there.
The Philippine Embassy in Cairo again advised Philippine citizens across Egypt to immediately contact the mission and sign up for repatriation. They were also advised to stay indoors while awaiting evacuation as the country remained under a state of emergency.
“Our two visits to Cairo within the last 12 days to assess the security situation has convinced us that the marked deterioration of peace and order, exacerbated by the 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 that city.
The foreign secretary ordered the raising of crisis alert level 4 for the estimated 6,000 Filipinos in Egypt on Monday. This means a mandatory repatriation to the Philippines paid for by the government.
The Philippine government meanwhile has issued an order barring the deployment of new workers to Egypt and the return there 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) earlier reported that the initial offer of repatriation was being met with indifference by the majority of the Filipinos in Egypt who did not want to leave and lose their jobs. 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 that arrived last Wednesday.
Up to 900 people 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 Aug. 15 near her home in Helwan, Cairo, where frequent clashes have occurred. She was reported to be recovering from her wound.
On its Facebook page, the Philippine Embassy in Cairo urged Filipinos 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,” 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 added.