MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday said it has enough funds to cover the repatriation of the remaining Filipinos in Syria.
“We have enough funds for this. We will be using emergency funds on top of the Assistance to Nationals funds,” said DFA Spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez.
Hernandez said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) also promised to assist the DFA if it needs more money for the repatriation efforts.
The DFA said there are about 5,000 Filipinos who are still in Syria.
“The 5,000 are a combination of documented and undocumented [Filipinos],” Hernandez said.
On Thursday, the DFA raised its crisis alert level from 3 to 4 in view of the escalating tension in the county.
Under crisis alert level 4, mandatory repatriation will be implemented at Philippine government’s expense.
“From airfare to deployment cost and even exit visa permits will be shouldered by the government,” said Hernandez.
He, however, clarified that it will still be up to the Filipinos whether they want to be repatriated or not.
Last week, the embassy has repatriated some 51 Filipinos, bringing the total number of Filipinos repatriated from Syria to 383 as of December 16.
“Many more repatriations are being effected, and hopefully before the end of this month, we will have some repatriation again and this will be a continuing effort as far as our embassy and the whole government is concerned,” he said.
Hernandez said the embassy is also working closely with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) “to ask for assistance in case there will be mass repatriation of migrant workers there”.
Filipinos in Syria are advised to keep their communication lines open with the embassy and their community coordinators and likewise inform them of their whereabouts. They are further advised to contact the embassy so that arrangements could be made for their immediate repatriation.
The Embassy’s hotline number is 00-963-116-132626. Families may also e-mail their requests and concerns through the Embassy’s e-mail address [email protected]
In Manila, the DFA also activated hotline numbers for families of Filipinos based in Syria, at 834-3245 and 834-3240. With ANC