Attempts to evacuate Filipinos in Afghanistan unsuccessful due to flight cancellations

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2021 08:08 PM

Crowds of people are seen on the tarmac at Kabul's airport in Afghanistan
Crowds of people are seen on the tarmac at Kabul's airport in Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. Satellite image from Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters

MANILA — There were two unsuccessful attempts to evacuate Filipinos from Afghanistan on Wednesday due to the cancellation of all commercial flights, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

In its latest situation bulletin, the DFA said the planned repatriation flights were supposed to have been made via New Delhi and Islamabad. 

“Last night, two attempts were made to evacuate Filipinos via New Delhi and Islamabad. However, these were unsuccessful due to the cancellation of all commercial flights,” the DFA said. 

“As experienced by the groups last night, access to and even within the airport is very difficult, and if able to check-in, this is still no assurance that a flight would be able to leave.”

The DFA said some have been able to leave through the help of foreign employers. Seven have been confirmed to have evacuated to Qatar, with another five to the United Kingdom.

“There are reports of other Filipinos who have left Kabul which our embassies are verifying. In all cases, the DFA will assist in their return to the Philippines,” the department said.

The DFA advised OFWs and other Filipinos still in Afghanistan to “be prepared to leave at moment’s notice, and to be able to travel with minimal luggage” as it said the Philippines is “exhausting all avenues to ensure their safety and eventual evacuation.”

It issued Alert Level 4 in Afghanistan over the weekend after the Taliban captured key cities, including capital Kabul. Under the alert level, the Philippines will undertake mandatory evacuation of all Filipinos in the area.

Thirty-five Filipinos arrived in Manila on Tuesday after being evacuated by their respective companies out of Afghanistan.

At least 130 Filipinos were estimated to be in Afghanistan at the time of the crisis. Those working there are regarded as "undocumented" by the Philippine government since it has no existing labor agreement with the Middle Eastern country.

Filipinos remaining in Afghanistan were advised to reach out to the following contact details:

  • Whatsapp/Viber: +923335244762
  • Messenger/Facebook: facebook.com/atnofficers.islamabadpe or facebook.com/OFWHelpPH
  • Email: isbpeatn@gmail.com

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