13 OFWs from Libya now in Egypt, one back in Manila- DFA

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that a group of 12 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have crossed to the Egyptian border from Libya.

The OFWs were engineers and managers from Korean construction firm Won Company who were evacuated by their employer via land from Tobruk in Libya to Asalum in Egypt.

They include Engel Basa, Ruel Ascaño, Reynan Maranan, Joel Almeda, Joseph Dapitan, Joe Salas, Alex Villalobos, Michael John Noble, Elmer Legaspi, Frankie Saludaga, Jarie dela Cruz and Mark Sabay. They will be proceeding to Cairo and will fly to Manila over the weekend.

Another OFW, Engineer Judith Tuvera, crossed from Tobruk in Libya to Alexandria with her employer last Wednesday.

The DFA said  the six-man team from the DFA in Manila led by DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Executive Director Ricardo Endaya arrived in Tripoli Friday to augment the personnel complement of the Embassy and assist the Filipinos who are availing of the voluntary repatriation program implemented by the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli and the DFA.

The team will split up, with one proceeding to Benghazi to supervise the repatriation efforts there and another proceeding to Tunisia, to set up the command post to receive Filipinos who will be exiting from Tripoli and environs.

The Tunisian government has approved landing rights for aircraft chartered to fly out OFWs and visa upon arrival, as well as setting up a satellite office at the airport to assist OFWs who will be flying out from there, the DFA saidDF.

The OFWs were welcomed by Consul General Renato Duenas, Jr. and a team from the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, which are in place at the border, and has set up a command post to receive and provide assistance to Filipinos who are exiting from Benghazi, Al Baida and nearby areas in Egypt’s northeast region.

Earlier, the DFA said that Filipinos employed by companies with repatriation plans are encouraged to join the effort.  The DFA and the Embassy is encouraging the companies to commence repatriation efforts, in tandem with the Embassy.

The first repatriate from Libya arrived Thursday afternoon in Manila.  Tuguegarao native Engineer Benjur Urusugan arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard a Qatar Airways flight from Tunisia.

Together with the Filipino community coordinators, the team from the DFA and the Embassy will reach out to the Filipinos and move them to safe relocation sites in Tripoli, Benghazi and Al Baida.  The Embassy has relocation sites in Tripoli and Benghazi for the Filipinos-the Philippine School and the St. Francis Catholic Church in Tripoli and the two Philippine Schools in Benghazi.

The repatriates from Tripoli will proceed to Tunis in Tunisia while those from Benghazi and Al Baida will proceed to Alexandria in Egypt by land.  From there, they will catch flights to Manila.

The DFA with the assistance of International Organization for Migration (IOM) is arranging commercial flights and ensuring that OFWs are included in any IOM-sponsored evacuation of migrant workers from Libya.

The DFA has released an initial amount of US$150,000 to the Embassy, while DOLE has committed P25 million to assist in the repatriation efforts.  The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will release P100 million for the same purpose.

The DFA-OUMWA is also receiving families of OFWs in its office, briefing them about the government’s repatriation plans and assuring them that the DFA and the Embassy are doing its best to locate their relatives and get them out of harm’s way.

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