OFWs in Libya express fear for safety

THE intensed and violent clashes between anti-government protesters and pro-Gadhafi state forces is now escalating and getting worse, according to Migrante-Middle East.

Yesterday, Gadhafi’s son appeared on state-run television threatening that the government will not hesitate to declare civil war once the violence further escalates.

“Based on the reports I have received from our Migrante coordinator in Libya, Mr. Gil Lebria, thru short messages (SMS), the heightened protests and clashes between the anti-government and government forces is now beyond control, in fact, it already reached Tripoli, Libya’s capital,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said Lebria, along with 200 fellow OFWs, is working at Hamada MC-100 which project site is located in Senawin field, near the Tunisian border, in between Benghazi and Tripoli, Libya. “Luckily, he was able to sent me text messages this morning at around 8:00 in the morning, Saudi time,” Monterona added.

“Hours later, all communication lines (telephone and mobile phone) have been cut as I did tried several times to call our Mr. Lebria, but to no avail,” Monterona lamented.

Lebria, on his SMS to Monterona, said: “Brod, na-trapped na kami dito; nag-request kami ng bus sa company for evacuation papunta ng Tripoli, pero rejected dahil mahirap na daw bumyahe (Brod, we were already trapped; we requested to our company to provide a bus for our evacuation going to Tripoli, but it was rejected as it is now too difficult to travel).”

Lebria and fellow trapped OFWs urge their families in the Philippines to help press the Aquino govt. to provide assistance and work for their safety.

Monterona said he did try to call a certain Mr. Jovencio Gatbagan, a PH embassy staff, to convey the worries of some 1,700 OFWs in Benghazi, but to no avail too.

“We are much concerned on the safety of the 1,700 OFWs in Benghazi than those OFWs based in Tripoli as they could ask helped from the PH embassy; but how about those outside Tripoli?” Monterona asked.

At 4:00 p.m. yesterday, Monterona said he called Doris Nebatad, chairwoman of an OFW organization in Benghazi, Libya. She said they could not see the presence of Embassy staff despite their plea for assistance.

“She is very worried for their safety and expressed dismay as they could not get help from the PH embassy once violence escalates,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said the Philippine embassy is in Tripoli, which is about 800km away from Benghazi.

Monterona expressed doubt if the PH embassy in Tripoli could extend assistance like providing food supplies and water to the trapped OFWs in Benghazi.

“The PH embassy would be facing a very difficult job to transport the 1,700 OFWs out of Benghazi to Tripoli for their eventual evacuation or repatriation once the Libyan civil war erupts,” Monterona said.

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