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So far, 876 Pinoys have fled Syria

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 03:41 AM February 12, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—A total of 876 overseas Filipino workers have been repatriated from Syria since March 2011, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. The last batch of Filipino OFWs in Syria who availed themselves of the government’s mandatory repatriation program arrived in Manila on Thursday.

“The Philippine Embassy in Damascus continues to assist thousands of Filipinos who are working in Syria and ensure their safety and welfare there. The embassy is working on the instruction of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to fully and effectively implement crisis alert level 4 (mandatory repatriation) due to the security situation in that country,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

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The DFA said no Filipinos were affected by the recent bombings in Aleppo, Syria.

Reuters reported that bomb attacks killed at least 28 people in Aleppo,  Syria’s second largest city, on Friday, while Homs endured another day of shelling and a fire fight broke out in Damascus, the nearest violent actions to the center of the capital in the 11-month uprising.

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The two Aleppo bombings were the worst violence to hit the country’s commercial hub in the ongoing uprising against the Assad family’s 42-year rule, Reuters said.

The DFA earlier raised the crisis alert level for Filipinos in Syria from 3 to 4 due to the escalating violence.

Under level 4, the mandatory or forced evacuation of OFWs at government expense is implemented.

Del Rosario called the repatriation of Filipinos from Syria a “continuing effort of the government since April 2010.”

Del Rosario, who flew to Damascus late last month to oversee OFW evacuation operations, has instructed the Philippine embassy in the Syrian capital to intensify its efforts “for the full implementation of crisis alert level 4.”

A majority of the Philippine nationals in Syria, however, have ignored the government offer, prompting the DFA to intensify its efforts to reach out to them and convince them to leave.

According to Del Rosario, Filipinos are reluctant to leave Syria because there are no job opportunities for them in the Philippines.

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TAGS: DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez., Overseas Filipino workers, repatriation from Syria, Syria
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