MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has instructed the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to help all Filipinos fleeing conflict-hit Sudan by providing cash aid as soon as they cross the border, Secretary Susan Ople said on Tuesday.
The DMW is monitoring the evacuation of Filipinos in batches, including a party that includes 19 children and a 7-month-old baby, said Ople, who will be flying to Cairo Tuesday evening to oversee the operations there.
“I will be leaving tonight with Undersecretary Hans Cacdac to oversee the operations of the department in making sure that those who are able to cross the border would be given financial assistance upon crossing kasi marami sa kanila walang dala at all,” she said.
“We want to make sure that there are proper facilities,” she said.
Each Filipino who will be evacuated from Sudan will receive $200 from the Philippine government, Ople said in a press conference in Malacañang.
“The President’s directives were to get all of them to safety as quickly as possible. It shouldn’t matter whatever papers they have or if they don’t have any papers at all,” she said.
“Sabi nga ng Pangulo, ‘Kung marunong mag-Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilokano, marunong ng ibang dialect sa atin, Pinoy ‘yan, tutulungan natin,” she said.
“It doesn't matter if they have any passport or identity cards… Aayusin na lang namin,” she added.
So far, 725 Filipinos in Sudan have contacted the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, and “327 as of now are requesting repatriation,” Ople said.
The DMW chief said she expects that number to increase in the next few days as skirmishes between warring military factions in Sudan continue.
The administration is “working with all governments including international partners” like the United Nations, the Migrant Workers chief said.
The Philippine government is looking at 3 routes to evacuate Filipinos from Khartoum: land travel from Khartoum to Aswan to Cairo; sea travel from Sudan Port to Jeddah; or air travel to Djibouti, where they will land in a US-controlled military air base.
“Yung pagbabalik sa Pilipinas may regular flights from Cairo, from Jeddah,” Ople said.
“It’s really bringing them to safety from Khartoum that’s difficult. We want to take advantage of the ceasefire to bring them to safety,” she said.
The government is also coordinating with Saudi Arabia to provide temporary jobs for evacuated Filipinos who do not wish to return to the Philippines, Ople said.
“Yung iba ayaw umuwi kasi sinasabi nila na, ‘Wala din naman kaming trabaho doon,’” she said.
“Most of the workers based in Sudan are skilled professionals. We are exploring the possibility of having temporary jobs for them if that would be allowed by their (Saudi Arabia) government,” she said.
A DMW team has also been formed to oversee job-matching efforts for displaced Filipino workers in Sudan, she said.
The conflict in Sudan erupted earlier this month after clashes ensued between factions within the Sudanese military government.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that 50 Filipinos have been evacuated from the conflict-stricken country as of April 24. Three other Filipinos — flight attendants who were stranded in an airport — have also landed in Riyadh.