261 OFWs arrive from Syria

By Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Oct 18 2012 02:32 PM | Updated as of Oct 19 2012 08:15 PM

KUWAIT – A total of 261 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who were trapped from the ongoing conflict in Syria, arrived in Manila on Thursday morning.

The repatriates arrived on board a Jordanian Aviation Flight 4371 chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from Syria at 8:15 a.m.

The Philippine government has so far repatriated 2,571 OFWs since the crisis broke out in Syria.

Meanwhile, 72 other OFWs remain in the Philippine Embassy shelter in Damascus.

“Ang nandirito pa sa shelter mga 72, aalis pa yung karagdagang 35 within the next few days sa commercial flights naman sila. Yung mga natitira lalakarin namin ang kanilang exit permits dahil natapos naman sila ng kanilang kontrata at yung iba naman inabandon ng kanilang employers,” said Ambassador Ricardo Endaya.

Endaya, who heads the Philippine Rapid Response Team in Syria said despite the crisis many Filipinos still do not want to leave the country.

“Sa Damascus, mga 1,500. All over Syria, palagay namin may 3,000 to 3,800. Inaasahan namin na kalahati nito mag-aavail ng mandatory repatriation,” Endaya said.

Although the situation around the embassy area is now quiet and normal, it is still dangerous outside Damascus, particularly in Aleppo.

“Ang Aleppo hindi pa rin nagbabago ang sitwasyon, madalas pa rin ang confrontation between the government forces at saka mga rebelde kaya pinapayuhan natin ang ating mga kababayan sa Aleppo to take advantage of our repatriation program and go to the Philippine Consulate in Aleppo. From Aleppo, they will be flown to Damascus and from here, we will arrange their repatriation to Manila,” he said. With a report from Noel Alamar, dzMM