53 OFWs repatriated from Libya
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday renewed its call for Filipinos in conflict-ridden Libya to return home as very few of them have signed up for voluntary repatriation amid the worsening political situation there.
The first batch of repatriates, 53 Filipinos, arrived in two separate flights on Wednesday, all but two of whom were employees of Doosan, the Korean heavy industries and construction company.
“The DFA continues to remind our nationals in Libya to get in touch with the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli and volunteer for repatriation. The Philippine government will shoulder the repatriation costs,” the DFA said in a statement.
Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, the DFA spokesperson, reiterated the call even as some overseas Filipino workers insisted the situation in Libya remained normal.
“Government’s primary concern is their safety, instead of us waiting for the situation to get worse and when it’s too late for them to leave,” Jose said.
Citing an assessment of Philippine officials who are in Libya now, Jose said the situation in that country remained “volatile” as “there seems to be no government actually in control” amid the continuing political turmoil.
The repatriates who arrived Wednesday were among the 251 Filipinos who have so far heeded the government’s call to return home, barely one percent of the total 13,000 Philippine citizens working and residing in Libya.
Jose said there were 198 left on the queue for flights home.
The Philippines initiated the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos out of Libya on May 29, when it raised Crisis Alert Level 3 for the Arab country, under which a total deployment ban to that country is also enforced.
Jose said a Level 4 alert, which would mean mandatory evacuation for Filipinos in Libya, would depend on how the situation in Libya develops.–Tarra Quismundo
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