Bongbong Marcos says gov’t preparing to move Filipinos out of Sudan amid 72-hour lull in fighting
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said the government is preparing to evacuate Filipinos from Sudan as the African country declared a 72-hour pause from fighting.
“Right now, we are hoping that the 72-hour ceasefire that has been declared will hold and we will – we are preparing ourselves,” he said in a video message following a meeting with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Department of National Defense on current issues, including the Sudan situation and particularly on how the government can bring Filipinos there to safety.
“So we’re we’re watching this situation very, very closely and to see if there’s a window of opportunity na mailabas natin ang mga Philippine nationals natin,” he added.
Marcos said Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople is on her way to the region, hoping to take advantage of the ceasefire window to move people out of Sudan.
“Mailabas natin ang mga tao natin. So that’s what we’re working on now. Ang mahirap is that even the land routes are not completely safe. As yet, ‘yung mga airport binomba pa, hindi talaga magamit. So we are still trying to find alternative ways,” he added.
(We need to get our people out of there. So that’s what we’re working on now. What’s difficult is that even the land routes are not completely safe. As yet, the airports have been bombed and cannot be used.)
The Philippine government, he added, is looking at Saudi Arabia and Djibouti in East Africa as evacuation places for Filipinos although the original plan was to take Filipinos to Cairo, Egypt, despite being a longer route than other locations.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said only 156 Filipinos are “ready to leave” violence-torn Sudan even if around 300 Filipinos based in the African country have sought the assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Egypt for their repatriation.
It also said on Tuesday morning that 69 Filipinos have evacuated the violence-stricken nation.
Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo de Vega said the Philippine government has started transporting the first batch of Filipinos to travel by land to Egypt.
“The first batch of 50 is actually on the road as we speak,” he told INQUIRER.net in a message.
The US had announced that the warring factions in Sudan had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire starting at midnight of April 24.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the agreement between the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, and the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, came following intense negotiation.
The US, Blinken said, will coordinate with regional and international partners, and Sudanese civilian stakeholders to assist in the creation of a committee to oversee the negotiation, conclusion, and implementation of a permanent cessation of hostilities and humanitarian arrangements in Sudan.