DFA backtracks, extends another week to repatriate, relocate OFWs in Libya

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Friday said  that its repatriation operations will continue for at least another week to evacuate the remaining overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are in critical areas in Libya and have expressed their desire to be  repatriated.

Earlier, the DFA announced an internal target to complete by Saturday the repatriation and relocation of OFWs and their families from the coastal cities of Libya.

Migrants group slammed the DFA  for setting a  Saturday  deadline which the group claimed could be deadly for the remaining Filipinos in Libya citing that only six percent (6%) of 26,000 Filipinos have arrived in Manila.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Government-chartered ship, MV Ionian Queen, is on its way to Tripoli to fetch Filipinos still there. It is expected to arrive on Saturday. The vessel earlier unloaded in Crete last Wednesday evening Filipinos from Benghazi and environs.

There are now some 11,045 Filipinos who have exited Libya.  Of these, some 1,971 have arrived in Manila.

The Philippine Government has released P 525 million for the repatriation efforts for Filipinos in Libya.

Filipino repatriates can avail of the financial relief assistance from DOLE-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in the amount of P10,000.

Six combined DFA-DOLE teams continue to assist Filipinos in Tripoli and at the various crossing and entry points of Djerba, the Libyan-Tunisian border, Al Sallum in Egypt, Crete and Malta.

A team is at a command post in Djerba for the relocation and the repatriation campaign there while the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli continues to extend assistance to OFWs there out of Libya.

DFA teams are likewise in place at the Libyan-Tunisian border and at As Sallum, a border town in Egypt, to assist OFWs arriving there.

In Crete, the DFA reception team continues to assist OFWs coming from Benghazi. The team has already made arrangements for incoming Filipinos from Tripoli, including food and accommodations.

In Malta, the DFA augmentation team has been providing assistance to OFWs arriving there from Tripoli.

One chartered flight from Alexandria travelled Thursday night carrying a total of 186 passengers.  The flight is expected to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Friday afternoon.

The Philippine Embassy in Cairo is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) there for assistance in booking flights for Filipinos who were abandoned by their employers.

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.

“The DFA is not without experience … We have a good working organization,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario said.

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