Chartered ship on the way to Benghazi to evacuate OFWs

A February 28, 2011 press release by the Department of Foreign Affairs

A ship chartered by the Philippine Government is due to arrive in the port city of Benghazi on March 1, Tuesday, to repatriate Filipinos in light of politico-security tensions in Libya. The chartered vessel can carry up to 1,725 passengers.

Upon the instructions of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, Charge d’Affaires Constancio Vingno at the Philippine Embassy in Athens finalized the arrangements for the chartered ship to fetch and take the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Benghazi to the island of Crete.

The vessel, named Ionian Queen, is Cyprus-flagged and owned by the Greek company High Pride Shipping Company Limited.

Apart from the Embassies near Libya, the DFA augmentation team and its other Embassies and Consulates General continue to assist Filipinos transiting their areas on the way to the Philippines.

According to the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) as of Monday morning, some 1, 327 Filipino nationals have safely exited Libya.

An additional 550 Filipinos, in a convoy of 55 vans and buses headed by Secretary del Rosario, were also safely evacuated Sunday to Tunisia.

To date, a total of 321 OFWs have arrived in Manila.

Apart from the Embassies near Libya, the DFA has mobilized its other Embassies and Consulates General to assist Filipinos who will be transiting their areas on the way to the Philippines.

In Manila, the DFA-OUMWA continues to attend to families of Filipinos in Libya, briefing them about the government’s measures being undertaken and in place.

Families of Filipinos based in Libya can also call DFA-OUMWA’s 24-hour landline numbers, at 834-4580, 834-3245, 834-3240, and 834-4646 to get information about their relatives there.

In cooperation with SMART Communications and Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company, a 24-hour “Libreng Tawag” is likewise activated at the DFA, where the families of Filipinos can directly call their relatives in Libya.