Filipinos in Lebanon urged to leave while Beirut airport is open
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday advised Filipinos in Lebanon to consider leaving and avail themselves of the government’s repatriation program while the airport in Beirut was still open.
“Due to the heightened tension in the southern border of Lebanon, the Philippine Embassy calls for the voluntary repatriation of Filipino nationals,” the Philippine Embassy in Beirut said in an advisory.
Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo de Vega earlier said that alert level 3 was raised in Lebanon and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there may seek voluntary repatriation to avoid getting trapped in clashes between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops.
More than 17,500 Filipinos are in Lebanon, according to DFA data.
‘While it’s early’
De Vega clarified that raising Alert Level 3 in Lebanon was not an alarm but a precaution for Filipinos as he cited high tension in the area.
“We’ve decided to raise it to Alert Level 3 while it’s early, while it’s still possible, while it’s still easy because there are [plane] tickets [available] and the Beirut Airport is open,” he said in a radio interview.
“It doesn’t mean that we are forcing them to go home. It’s an advice that while it’s still early, I hope they will go home to the Philippines because the situation in Lebanon may escalate and a war may erupt,” he added.
The Philippine Embassy in Lebanon earlier issued an advisory reminding Filipinos to “be careful” and avoid public places, gatherings, and traveling within Lebanon, especially in the south, unless necessary.
The government also launched a help desk for updates and assistance to overseas Filipinos affected by the mass protests across Lebanon amid tensions in the Israel-Gaza border.
The Department of Migrant Workers said the government established the help desk with the assistance of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
More OFWs coming home
Meanwhile, 25 more OFWs from Israel are expected to arrive in Manila on Monday, according to Anthony Mandap, deputy chief of mission and consul general at the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Mandap said this latest batch of Filipino workers was scheduled to leave on Sunday.
As of Friday, 32 OFWs had been repatriated since the latest eruption of violence between Israel and Hamas.
There are an estimated 30,000 Filipinos in Israel, the majority of them working as caregivers.
The government has confirmed the deaths of four Filipinos in the Hamas attacks and one OFW missing.
Since the conflict intensified, the DFA has been looking for ways to move Filipinos out of the battle zones, especially as the Philippine government has ordered their mandatory evacuation from Gaza on Oct. 15.