DFA, DOLE achieve internal target to get Filipinos in Libya out of harm’s way

A March 7, 2011 press release prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment said that they have achieved their internal target of repatriating Filipinos from Tripoli, Benghazi and other areas.

“We have accomplished this, with the pick-up of our Filipino nationals from Misuratha and Brega, as well as the voyage of the MV Ionian Queen from Tripoli,” DFA Undersecretary for Administration Rafael E. Seguis said in a press conference today.

He added that this week and up to Saturday, the DFA and DOLE will be on mop-up operations, and get Filipinos in other areas who wish to be repatriated home to the Philippines.

“For the past two weeks, we have accomplished much, but there remains much to be done. We have had very close coordination and partnership with Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and her team, and will continue to do so,” he said.

The Foreign Affairs Undersecretary outlined the accomplishments of the Philippine Government in the past days.

“With the tremendous effort of our personnel from the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, and with the support of people from the respective home offices of DFA and DOLE, we were able to get around 12,000 Filipinos in Libya out of harm’s way, with about a third of them already back in Manila,” he explained.

“The Philippine Government allocated P525 million for the repatriation effort, and more funding will be made available for these Filipinos. We have chartered planes, ships and other modes of transport to ensure that we have an effective and efficient repatriation. Teams from the DFA and the DOLE are in the border crossings in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as in receiving areas in Djerba, Crete and Malta to receive our nationals, provide them assistance and arrange for their onward transportation to Manila,” Undersecretary Seguis added.

Meanwhile, more than 200 Filpinos from Brega and environs were picked up Sunday (local time) by the Department of Foreign Affairs-Department of Labor and Employment field augmentation team led by DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Executive Director Ricardo Endaya, DFA-OUMWA Principal Assistant Maynard Maleon and another personnel from the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli.

The Filipinos are now in Benghazi, and will travel by land Monday (local time) to Al Sallum, a border town in Egypt, where officials from the DFA-DOLE field augmentation team stationed at Al Sallumborder are waiting for them at a command post.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Government-chartered vessel MV Ionian Queen arrived Sunday midnight (local time) in the port city of Crete with 1,038 passengers, including Filipinos, an Algerian family of five and a Myanmar national.

A DFA-DOLE reception team at Crete welcomed them and is attending to them and to the Filipinos who earlier arrived there, including food and accommodations. They will be flown to the Philippines in chartered planes.

In Malta, there are 22 Filipinos who arrived from Misuratha. The DFA-DOLE augmentation team in Malta, in coordination with the International Organization for Migration (IOM)-Malta, are arranging the flights of these Filipinos to Manila.

In Manila, a total of 1,291 Filipinos arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Sunday in three chartered flights and 12 commercial flights. Two of the chartered flights came from Dubai and one from Djerba.

As of Friday, there are now 11,867 Filipinos who have exited Libya and out of harm’s way. Of this number, 4,222 have arrived in Manila as of March 6.

Embassy officials and staff as well as the six DFA-Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) augmentation teams deployed in the region continue to assist in the repatriation efforts in Libya. The DFA continues to urge Filipinos there to avail of the repatriation program of the government.

During the last five days, the DFA-DOLE augmentation team in Tunisia was able to evacuate 2,349 Filipinos, while the DFA-DOLE augmentation team in Egypt was able to monitor some 2,222 Filipinos who were able to escape Libya through the As Sallum border.

The DFA-DOLE augmentation teams stationed in Cairo and Malta are coordinating with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) offices there on booking flights and hotel accommodations of Filipinos who were abandoned by their employers in Malta and Egypt.

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