200 Pinoys in Libya awaiting repatriation

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Monday, August 4, 2014

MANILA -- Around 200 Filipinos in Tripoli, Libya are already awaiting repatriation as the strife-torn country descended further into civil war, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday.

DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said in a press briefing that the agency is now planning different ways of extracting the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Libya and they have set up extraction points in the cities of Benghazi, Misrata, and "possibly" Tripoli.

He said the extractions have to be carefully planned and executed, citing the obstacles of travel from the extractions points to the Republic of Malta.

"Travelling throughout Libya could be dangerous because of the checkpoints manned by different armed groups," he said.

Remaining OFWs

Upon arrival to the extraction points, a ship will take the OFWs to Malta where the DFA has arranged a chartered plane to bring them back to the Philippines.

When asked about the remaining 11,000 OFWs in Libya, Jose said that although a mandatory repatriation is in place, it is still the decision of the OFWs whether they want to go home or not.

He said some OFWs working in the medical sector are pressured by hospitals to stay, while other OFWs simply do not want to leave because of their jobs.

"Karamihan, ang reasoning po, they think they will survive 'yung conflict doon, but they are less sure they will survive the uncertainty ng wala pong trabaho dito (A lot of them say they'd probably survive the conflict there, while they are unsure of finding jobs here)," he said.

11,000 OFWs

"Noong ni-raise namin yung alert level, may mga nagsabi na nag-overreact lang yung DFA (When we raised the alert level, some people were saying the DFA is overreacting)," he said, but stressed it is the DFA's mandate to take care of OFWs.

Jose said the DFA has taken a proactive step in warning the remaining 11,000 OFWs in Libya of the imminent threat, and hopes that the remaining Filipinos there would realize the weight of the situation and heed the call for repatriation, as he pointed out incidents such as the beheading of an OFW and the rape of a Filipina nurse in Tripoli.

"Continuous pa rin yung panghihikayat natin sa kanila. (We are still continuously encouraging them [to repatriate])," he said. (Edwin Joseph Castañeda/Sunnex)

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