Ionian Queen leaves Tripoli with 1,103 Filipinos, other nationalities

A March 6, 2011 press release prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli said that the MV Ionian Queen arrived in the area on the evening of March 4 (Tripoli time) and was able to take in 1,103 passengers, including Filipinos, an Algerian family of five and a Myanmar national.

According to Ambassador Alejandrino Vicente, the Philippine Government-chartered vessel also picked up dependents of Filipino diplomats and Embassy non-essential staff.

This is after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) directed them to board the vessel in light of escalating tensions in Libya, and also urged Filipinos there to avail of the repatriation program of the government.

The Cyprus-flagged, Greek-owned vessel is now on its way to Crete, where a DFA reception team is waiting for them and is attending to Filipinos who arrive there, including food and accommodations. They will be flown to the Philippines in chartered planes. The remaining 185 Filipinos in Crete will be flown in commercial flights.

Embassy officials and staff who are assisting in the repatriation efforts, as well as the six DFA-Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) augmentation teams deployed in the region, remained.

There are now 11,867 Filipinos who have exited Libya. Of this number, 2,554 have arrived in Manila as of March 4. For that day alone, 662 Filipinos arrived in Manila.

In Djerba, the team led by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos has organized 10 chartered flights to fly Filipinos there to Dubai. Seven of these flights had brought some 1,190 Filipinos to Dubai Airport. They will be flown to Manila through commercial flights and two chartered planes.

The three other flights going out of Djerba are awaiting flight clearances from India and will go straight to Manila, with 537 Filipinos. Those who exited through the Tunisian border were housed in four temporary shelters/safe houses while waiting for their flights to Manila.

The DFA reported that two two-man teams successfully entered Benghazi and the Tobruk area. DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Executive Director Ricardo Endaya and DFA-OUMWA Principal Assistant Maynard Maleaon are now in Benghazi while a two-man team from DOLE is now in Tobruk. Both teams are to assist in the repatriation.

During the last five days, the augmentation team in Tunisia was able to evacuate 2,349 Filipinos, while the augmentation team in Egypt was able to monitor some 2,222 Filipinos who were able to escape Libya trhough the Asalum border.

The 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, continuing their efforts to assist Filipinos transiting their areas on their 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.