DFA target: 1st batch of OFWs back from war-torn Sudan by weekend
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is eyeing to bring back the first batch of 50 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from the war-torn Sudan this weekend, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega said on Friday.
After fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the rebel forces, hundreds of Filipinos were transported to the safety of the Egyptian border.
“So ang game plan, ang target namin, dapat itong weekend nandoon na sila sa Pilipinas, sa Maynila, yung unang singkwenta,” said De Vega during the Laging Handa press briefing.
(Our target is to have them here in Manila, the first 50, by weekend.)
De Vega said that after the initial batch, the DFA hopes to bring home another 350 OFWs a week later.
The DFA, however, has found it difficult to get commercial flights due to competition.
“Ang problema lang ang yung agawan ng commercial flights din also. Pero at least, yun din ang naiisip namin para di na tumagal pa. Remember po, itong weekend, dapat, sana na sa Pilipinas na itong 50, kung hindi, siguro, sa Lunes ganyan,” he said.
(The problem is, there’s a competition for the commercial flights. But at least, we are eyeing such so as not to prolong this. Remember, this weekend, this 50 should be here, if not, maybe by Monday.)
According to the DFA’s statement on Friday, a total of 496 Filipinos have been evacuated from Khartoum, with 414 of them at the Sudan-Egypt border.
Meanwhile, 58 OFWs are at Port Sudan who are “awaiting the ship that will bring them to Jeddah”, said the DFA in a message to reporters.
The DFA also said that eight OFWs flew to Athens through the help of the Greek military. Sixteen other OFWs arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and have been met with the DFA’s consulate general there.
Rapid developments in Sudan, however, have made it difficult for the DFA to give concrete timelines and numbers, with the agency asking for patience if figures do not always align.
“Developments are happening quite fast. Figures are changing based on what is happening on the ground,” the DFA said.
According to the DFA, it is working with different embassies and governments to expedite the evacuation.
“DFA teams in Athens, Jeddah, and at the Egypt-Sudan border have been assisting Filipinos from Khartoum and are making arrangements for their repatriation via the next available flights. Coordination with the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Greece on the safe passage of Filipino evacuees is continuing through the respective Philippine Embassies,” it said.