MANILA (UPDATE)—There are still 141 Filipinos in Ukraine amid Russia's continuing assault of the former Soviet republic, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Sarah Lou Arriola said 45 of them refused to leave the capital Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million.
"As of now, meron kaming nakikitang 141 pa na nasa loob pa ng Ukraine. May 45 pa po sa Kyiv. 'Yun po 'yung talagang ayaw pang lumikas," she told TeleRadyo.
Of the figure, 15 Filipinos are staying in Lviv, close to the Polish border, while 55 others have fled near the border of Hungary, Arriola said.
Meanwhile, 87 Filipino seafarers are docked in ports of Ukraine, she added.
"Medyo kalat-kalat po sila ngayon pero marami na rin po 'yung nakatawid," she said.
Arriola said 40 Filipinos in Ukraine had already fled to European neighbors—27 in Moldova, 9 in Austria and 4 in Romania.
As some Filipinos refused to leave Ukraine, the Philippine government gave them $200 worth of financial assistance.
"Dun po sa mga nasa Lviv po, meron na pong 17 na nabigyan. Kasi 'yun po 'yung mga 'yun, ayaw po talaga nilang lumikas. Humiwalay na po sila sa embassy," Arriola said.
"We just gave them financial assistance. We're giving more because marami ang hesitant kasi 'yung iba po married po talaga sa Ukraine."
To date, 19 Filipinos so far have returned to the Philippines. Thirteen of them, including 3 students, arrived from Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday night.
The group was part of evacuees who left Kyiv for Lviv and was welcomed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr at the Poland border.
OFW STAYS PUT IN UKRAINE
An overseas Filipino worker said Wednesday she had no plans of leaving Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
"Opo kasi 'yan ang pinag-uusapan namin that time, na kung saan daw sila pupunta ay kasama po ako," Joy Tolentino, who works as a nanny for a Ukrainian family, told TeleRadyo.
She and her employer are currently staying in the western town of Ivano-Frankivsk. They left Kyiv when Russian forces assaulted the capital.
"Wala din po [akong balak bumalik ng Pilipinas] kasi kasama ko naman sila," she added.
Tolentino, who hails from Isabela, Negros Occidental, said her employer were assisting fellow Ukrainians who fled Kyiv.
They may move to the hinterlands of Ivano-Frankivsk, which is close to the border of Romania, to escape from air raids and bombardment seen in major cities in Ukraine.
The International Criminal Court has already opened a war crimes investigation against Russia. Ukraine says more than 350 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed in the conflict.
More than 660,000 people have fled abroad, the UN refugee agency said, estimating that a million people are displaced within ex-Soviet Ukraine, which has a population of 44 million.
Russia has defied international bans, boycotts and sanctions to press ahead with an offensive it says is aimed at defending Ukraine's Russian speakers and toppling the leadership.
—With a report from Agence France-Presse