MANILA — Some Filipinos who fled from the deadly fighting in Sudan experienced delays in their entry to neighboring Egypt due to their missing travel documents, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.
Some 400 Filipinos evacuated from Sudan's capital Khartoum, but "not all have entered Egypt," DFA Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega said.
"Right now, as we speak... mayroong 350 na Filipinos aboard 7 buses na nakaabot sa border [ng Egypt] kahapon... Ang problema ngayon ay iyong processing ng papeles nila," he said.
"Iyong isa po, siyempre, pino-process ng Egypt kasi wala iyang entry visa. So doon mismo pino-process. Sabi ng Egypt daw, it might take 2 days or so, even 3 days. At saka bombarded sila ‘no dahil ang daming pumapasok sa border."
(Around 350 Filipinos aboard 7 buses have reached the border of Egypt yesterday. The problem is the processing of their papers. Egypt has no entry visa, so their papers are processed there. Egypt says it might take 2 or 3 days because they are also bombarded with the entry of so many evacuees.)
A proof of identity is needed to enter Egypt, where the Philippines has an embassy, he said.
But some Filipinos fled from Khartoum with expired passports or fake documents. A DFA team is helping them secure necessary documents, the official said.
"Wala silang papeles kasi naiwan iyong passport sa amo or expired na iyong passport or even, well, walang documents, baka fake din or what," De Vega said.
"So kailangan nila para makapasok sa Egypt magkaroon ng dokumento, travel document, identity po, na ginagawa ng ating embahada doon mismo.
(They don't have papers because they left their passport with their employer. Some have expired documents, others have none at all, or perhaps had fake papers. They need travel documents and proof of identity to enter Egypt, and that's what our embassy there is taking care of.)
De Vega sought understanding for the repatriation delays, citing the impact of war on the usual government processes.
"Wala sa atin iyong desisyon niyan, nasa Egypt. Pero nangangako sila sa ating ambassador, si Ezzedin Tago ay nandoon, ay maa-approve ang mga iyan. It just takes time. So ang tingin pa rin namin, itong weekend, lahat iyan ay nakapasok na," he said.
"Ang importante po, nandoon na sila, wala na sila sa panganib kasi ang layo na nila sa Khartoum. So iyon po iyong masasabi nating good news."
(The decision is not up to us, it depends on Egypt. But they promised our ambassador Ezzedin Tago, who is there, that it would be approved. It just takes time. We think, all of them will be able to enter Egypt this weekend. What is important is they are already far from the danger in Khartoum. That is the good news we can share.)
The DFA official said another batch of around 100 Filipinos would be brought to the border of Sudan and Egypt later Friday.
Fighting broke out on April 15 between Sudan's army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary RSF commanded by his deputy-turned-rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
At least 512 people have been killed and 4,193 wounded in the fighting, according to health ministry figures, although the real death toll is likely much higher.
Hospitals have been shelled and more than two-thirds are out of service, the doctors' union said, reporting at least eight civilians killed in Khartoum alone on Wednesday.
The World Food Programme has said the violence could plunge millions more into hunger in a country where 15 million people -- one-third of the population -- need aid.
The violence has trapped many civilians in their homes, where they have endured severe food, water and electricity shortages.
Egypt said Thursday that at least 14,000 Sudanese refugees had crossed the border since fighting erupted, as well as 2,000 people from 50 other countries.
At least 20,000 people have escaped into Chad, 4,000 into South Sudan, 3,500 into Ethiopia and 3,000 into the Central African Republic, according to the UN, which has warned if fighting continues as many as 270,000 people could flee.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse