Evacuation starts for Filipinos in strife-torn Libya


Posted at Apr 18 2019 07:28 PM

In this Wednesday, April 17, 2019, photo released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, a Filipino worker embraces a staff of the department as they are evacuated from Tripoli, Libya. Philippine diplomats started evacuating a small group of Filipinos from the Libyan capital after it was hit by a barrage of rocket fire that wounded one Filipino, officials said Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Department of Foreign Affairs via AP)

MANILA – The Philippine government has started evacuating Filipinos from Tripoli, Libya, which is currently gripped by civil unrest.

In a statement released Thursday, the foreign affairs department said seven Filipinos — three hospital workers and four students — have been evacuated to Tunisia where they will be repatriated to the Philippines.

Elmer G. Cato, chargé d’affaires of the Philippine embassy in Libya, said 13 more Filipinos are expected to be evacuated to Tunisia in the coming days.

The DFA said it shouldered the cost of repatriating the four students from an Islamic school in Tripoli, while the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) paid for the airfare of the three employees of the Ali Omar Ashkar Hospital outside Tripoli.

Cato said there are about 1,000 Filipinos in the Libyan capital, but only 20 have so far requested repatriation “despite efforts of the Embassy to convince them to go home to ensure their safety.”

The Philippine government earlier ordered a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers in the Libyan capital.

The ban, which covers areas within a 100-kilometer radius of the city, takes effect immediately and affects returning workers to Tripoli.

Eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, who is allied to a parallel government based in the east, started an offensive two weeks ago on Tripoli, increasing the chaos that has plagued the oil producing nation since 2011.

But the internationally recognized Tripoli government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, which has kept him at bay in the southern suburbs, views the 75-year-old general as a dangerous would-be dictator in the mold of Muammar Gaddafi.

The fighting in Tripoli has killed some 205 people, including 18 civilians, and wounded 913, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. – with Reuters