DFA chief flying to Syria to lead repatriation efforts


Posted at Dec 31 2011 03:12 PM | Updated as of Jan 01 2012 03:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Amid escalating violence in Syria, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will fly to the Middle Eastern country's capital on Saturday night to facilitate the repatriation of Filipinos there.

Del Rosario, who will be accompanied by Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr., will take a Qatar Airways flight to Damascus to implement the government's mandatory repatriation order, a week after the crisis alert in the strife-torn country was raised to the highest level.

Del Rosario said he will seek the cooperation of Syrian officials in ensuring the safety of Filipinos, as well as meet with Filipino community leaders for wider dissemination of information about the repatriation efforts.

"We will ensure that all systems are in place in the Embassy to implement crisis alert level 4," he said. "We are fully committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of our beloved Filipinos in Syria. Therefore, it is our objective to undertake the repatriation of our kababayans there as quickly as possible."

The DFA raised the crisis alert level in Syria from 3 to 4 last Dec. 22.

Some 56 Filipinos are set to arrive in Manila from Syria on Saturday afternoon via Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. This will bring the total number of those repatriated since the start of the political crisis in Syria to 490.