‘Out or on the move’: About 420 Filipinos headed out of war-torn Sudan
MANILA, Philippines — About 420 Filipino evacuees are on the way to Egypt from war-torn Sudan, according to Philippine ambassador to Egypt Ezzedin Tago.
“About 420 are out or on the move. Later on in a couple of days we will also have to try to organize one or two more [buses] for those still left behind,” said Tago in a Thursday interview with Kabayan.
Tago elaborated that 51 evacuees have successfully crossed the Agreen border into Egypt, around 350 evacuees traveling in seven buses are “within proximity,” and 23 more are still waiting for their security clearances.
“They are in safer zones now, of course, compared to two days ago when they were still in Khartoum,” said the ambassador when asked about the status of the seven buses.
Tago also added that an estimate of 15 evacuees were brought straight to Port Sudan, but he has yet to ascertain this figure and the status of these evacuees.
The embassy plans to deploy an additional one to two buses over the next couple of days.
Lack of travel documents
The ambassador noted, however, that his and vice consul Bojer Capati’s efforts to issue travel documents to paperless OFWs in Sudan have been a logistical challenge.
“Nagpa-plano kami kung paano siya pupunta sa kabila at mag-issue ng mga travel documents para sa kanila. So it’s a logistical issue, dahil we have to go out to the other side and do it before coming here,” Tago explained.
(We have been planning how he (vice consul Bojer Capati) can travel across the border and issue travel documents. It’s a logistical issue because we have to go out to the other side and do it before coming here.)
“Pero pinaplano po namin na i-extend yung tulong sa lahat po,” he added.
(But we intend to extend help to all.)
There are a total of around 725 Filipino migrants in Sudan, according to a Tuesday statement by Department of Migrant Workers chief Susan Ople.
Choosing to stay
Tago also noted that some Filipinos have actually opted to stay in the conflict-stricken country which has become a “second home for many years.”
“Well, I’m sure yung iba may mga commitment. May mga iniwan na mga ibang benepisyo or [they have] hope that Sudan will again stabilize… pero the situation is not encouraging,” Tago explained.
(Well, I’m sure some have commitments. Others would have to leave benefits, or they have hope that Sudan will again stabilize… but the situation is not encouraging.)
While talks of another ceasefire are ongoing, Tago pointed out that similar promises of peace have often been interrupted and undermined by conflict.
“They’re negotiating again another ceasefire… pero palagi namang hindi nasusundan,” he said.
(They’re negotiating again another ceasefire… but these are never really followed.)
“Some countries are trying to make these ceasefires a permanent thing with monitoring committees and so on, and to return to the final discussions for final agreement,” added Tago.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres previously called on Generals Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo ‘Hemedti,’ and the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces to “silence the guns” and choose a permanent ceasefire.
Sudan’s political factions also previously agreed to form a new transitional government in April, but this accord was miscarried due to the current conflict.
“Dahil in November [and] December po, nagpirmahan po sila ng framework agreement and ang deadline sana para magkaroon ng final agreement for the transitional government and [to] reach a democracy was in April pero hindi po natuloy because of the situation now,” clarified the ambassador.
(Because in November and December, they did sign a framework agreement and the deadline for the final agreement for a transitional government, to reach a democracy, was in April, but this was discontinued due to the situation now.)