DFA continued helping OFWs in Syria and Libya

Syria Damascus Douma Protests 2011 - 12
Teams from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassies in Tripoli and Damascus continue to provide assistance to Filipinos in Libya and Syria in light of escalating tensions in said countries.
In Libya, 35 Filipinos were able to board the International Organization for Migration (IOM)-chartered vessel, M/V Tasuko, which sailed from the port of Tripoli at 9 p.m. local time (3 a.m. today, Manila time). It is expected to arrive in Benghazi on Saturday at 11 a.m. local time (5 p.m. Manila time).
From Benghazi, the Filipino repatriates will travel by land to the Egyptian border of Al Salom. A team from the Philippine Embassy in Cairo is already in place at the Egyptian border and will receive and assist these Filipinos in their repatriation back to Manila.
In Tripoli, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis, Philippine Ambassador to Libya Alejandrino Vicente, with personnel of the Philippine Embassy, continue in convincing Filipinos there to leave Libya. They offer assistance to those who have expressed their desire to be repatriated.
In Syria, as of date, some 395 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have already expressed their desire to come home and avail of the voluntary repatriation of the Philippine government. An Embassy team is negotiating and making the appropriate representations with their employers and with the concerned Syrian authorities for the immediate release of their exit visas.
To date, the Philippine Embassy in Damascus has already processed the exit visas of some 108 OFWs and is arranging their immediate repatriation.
Embassy officials and community coordinators in Syria continue to contact Filipinos there to inquire about their condition and to inform them of the Embassy’s voluntary repatriation program. They have also advised Filipinos not to venture outside, especially if tensions are nearby.
Upon the instruction of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban B. Conejos, Jr. went to Syria last week to assist the Embassy in the implementation of its contingency plan and to implement measures for the Syria-wide alert level 3.  DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Executive Director Ricardo M. Endaya also went to Syria to assist the Embassy in the repatriation efforts
The Embassy has activated the “Task Group on Voluntary Repatriation” wherein three teams were convened to attend to specific assignments. A five-man “outgoing calls” team from the Embassy actively calls OFWs and urges them to leave and avail of the government’s voluntary repatriation program. Another five-man “incoming calls” team receives calls from the OFWs who have decided to avail of the voluntary repatriation program. The third team, called the negotiation team, negotiates and represents the OFWs, who have expressed their desire to come home, with their employers and the concerned Syrian authorities for the immediate release of their exit visas.
Meanwhile, 12 Filipino nationals arrived Thursday, August 25, from Syria via Emirates Airways.
Representatives from the DFA, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Office of the Vice-President (OVP) welcomed the Filipino repatriates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The DFA continues to attend to families of Filipinos in Libya and in Syria, briefing them about the government’s measures being undertaken and in place.
The Philippine Embassy in Damascus’ hotline number is 00-963-116-132626. Families may also email their requests and concerns through the Embassy’s email address pe.damascus@gmail.com.
In Manila, the DFA-OUMWA also activated hotline numbers for families of Filipinos based in Syria and in Libya, at 834-3245 and 834-3240.