Evacuation of OFWs in Sudan may start 'in 24 hours'; 3 rescued

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2023 01:14 PM | Updated as of Apr 24 2023 02:00 PM

Smoke rises above buildings during ongoing skirmish between Sudanese army and paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum, Sudan, April 18, 2023. EPA-EFE/STRINGER 
Smoke rises above buildings during ongoing skirmish between Sudanese army and paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum, Sudan, April 18, 2023. EPA-EFE/STRINGER 

MANILA — Three Filipinos were safely evacuated from Sudan and have already arrived in Jeddah, as government plans to begin its evacuation to more Filipinos "within 24 hours," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday. 

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose De Vega said the 3 rescued female Filipinos were airline workers at Saudia who were stuck in Khartoum amid the ongoing clashes there. 

"Sila at ibang empleyado ng eroplano, dinala ng Saudi government sa.. Port ng Sudan. Galing doon, sinundo sila ng military vessel galing Saudi Arabia na nagdala sa kanila sa... Jeddah. At doon sila sinalubong kasama ang ating consul nandoon," De Vega said in a public briefing. 

"Sila ang unang tatlong Pilipinong nakalikas," he added. 

The official noted that evacuation will be done by batches and will either be done by land travel northwards to Egypt, and the other by water travel eastwards through the Port of Sudan. 

Evacuation buses have already been rented by the embassy, where travel to southern Egypt may last around 15 hours at the minimum. 

De Vega said evacuees will be brought to the city of Aswan, where there is an airport to Cairo. 

"Ang government nagsisimula na kami within 24 hours, mayroon na rin tayong batches na makakasakay ng evacuation buses papuntang Egypt." 

At present, he said, the number of registered Filipinos in Sudan climbed to 696, around 156 of whom have travel documents and were prepared to be evacuated at any given time. 

The Philippine embassy in Cairo, Egypt though said some 300 Filipinos have sought help or rescue. 

Among the challenges authorities faced were the lack of travel documents from Filipinos working in Sudan, as they need these to have their visas processed. 

Some employers are keeping the passports of the Filipino workers, he said. 

"Ang iba, wala silang valid passport, ang iba naman nasa corporation, nasa company, hawak ng employer kaya nga ayaw natin magpadala doon dahil hindi dapat hawak ng employer ang passport, so sabihin natin kalahati, 300, more or less 300 ang kailangan umuwi kaya nag-aagawan ngayon ang ibang bansa na kumuha ng transportation vehicles palabas ng Sudan," he said. 

Those without valid passports must coordinate with the Philippine Embassy in Cairo so they could request a special consideration in the Egyptian government, he said. 

"Kailangan kahit walang valid passport, mayroon silang something which shows kung sino sila. Kopya ng kanilang passport o ibang ID," he said.

Repatriated Filipinos, the official said, will not be allowed to return to Sudan due to the mounting tensions there. 

The DFA over the weekend told ABS-CBN News it may raise the alert status in Sudan from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3, as the number of Filipinos who want to leave the country continues to grow. 

Alert level 3 entails the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos in the country, based on the agency's guidelines.

Here are the contact details: 

Philippine Consulate in Khartoum
Telephone Number: (+249)91 239 9448
Email: phil.cons@elnefeidigroup.com

Philippine Embassy in Cairo
WhatsApp/Mobile: (+20) 122 743 6472
Facebook/Messenger: PHinEgypt
Email: cairo.pe@dfa.gov.ph

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