9,231 Filipinos now out of Libya; PHL-chartered vessel evacuates 1,290 Filipinos from Benghazi

A March 2, 2011 press release by the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Department of Foreign Affairs Office (DFA) reported that the MV Ionian Queen, chartered by the Philippine Government, evacuated 1,290 Filipinos and their families from the port city of Benghazi.

The Cyprus-flagged, Greek-owned vessel docked at Benghazi’s Port of Gulani Tuesday at 3:30 PM (local time) and thereafter departed at 1:00 AM for the island of Crete.

The vessel, which has a capacity of 1,725 passengers, took on board all those who have expressed the desire to be repatriated back to the Philippines. Conditions have somewhat normalized in Benghazi. Banks and shops have opened and police are back in the streets.

The vessel is expected to arrive in Crete on March 3 (Wednesday), at 2:00 PM (local time).

A DFA Reception Team is in Crete and has made arrangements for the Filipinos, including food and accommodations.

Four days ago, some 3,000 Filipinos in and around Benghazi airport left Benghazi in five batches for Egypt through employer sponsored vehicle convoys, according to Ms. Teresita Trabolsi, a long time resident and Filipino community leader in Benghazi. During their stay in Benghazi airport, food were provided by the company owned by the son of Khadaffy. They are now in Egypt.

There are now some 9,231 Filipino nationals who have exited Libya. Of these, some 859 of them have arrived in Manila.

Recently, 145 Filipinos reached Ankara. Another 142 Filipino nationals arrived in Malta onboard various vessels, with an additional 200 Filipinos in Malta after being brought there by an employer-chartered vessel.

Some 730 Filipinos are also now in Tunisia, after travelling in a 53-vehicle convoy from Tripoli.

In Egypt, the Philippine Embassy there stated that 1,400 Filipinos have crossed over the Libyan-Egyptian border. They will be flown to Manila on chartered planes.

Three chartered flights have flown out of Djerba Airport carrying a total of 538 passengers. The Filipinos have been brought to Dubai, where they will take commercial flights to Manila.

A total of 358 Filipinos will be flown out of Djerba to Dubai on Wednesday.

The DFA also stated that two employer-chartered flights carrying 366 OFWs are expected to arrive Wednesday evening at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Apart from the Embassies near Libya, the DFA teams and its other Embassies and Consulates General are in full relocation and repatriation mode, continuing their efforts to assist Filipinos transiting their areas on the way to the Philippines.

“The DFA is not without experience … We have a good working organization,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario said.

In Manila, the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) continues to attend to families of Filipinos in Libya, briefing them about the government’s measures being undertaken and in place.

There are 24-hour landline numbers available for families of Filipinos based in Libya, at 834-4580, 834-3245, 834-3240, and 834-4646. In cooperation with SMART Communications and Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company, a 24-hour “Libreng Tawag” is also activated at the DFA, where the families of Filipinos can call their relatives in Libya. Families may also e-mail their requests and concerns through the DFA-OUMWA Crisis Management Center’s e-mail address dfaoumwa.cmc@gmail.com.

In an effort to fast-track the issuance of passports of a number of Filipino repatriates who left Libya without passports in view of the volatile situation there, the DFA Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) has also designated special lanes for them in its main passport office, its 19 regional consular offices (RCOs) and its Passport Extension Office at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The Filipino repatriates from Libya may appear personally at these special lanes and present the most basic identification and the Travel Documents (TDs) issued to them by Philippine Foreign Service posts.