Filipinos in Libya told: Evacuate despite ceasefire talks

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2020 08:49 AM

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Filipinos in Libya still need to evacuate away from previous encounter sites in the capital even as the UN-recognized government and strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar ironed out a ceasefire agreement, an envoy said Tuesday. 

First raised by Manila's foreign affairs department in May, the highest in a 4-step crisis alert system remained hoisted over Tripoli and nearby areas, which called for the mandatory evacuation of Filipinos there, said Ambassador Elmer Cato said. 

Only 12 Filipinos so far requested repatriation. Filipinos in Libya, who are mostly nurses, refuse to leave their jobs, Cato said. 

"Hindi nila maiwan iyong kanilang mga trabaho at naintindihan naman natin iyong sitwasyon nila," he told radio DZMM. 

"Ang understanding natin sa Filipino community dito is while handa ang Embahada na i-repatriate sila, kung hindi pa sila ready ay just make sure na umiwas sila sa kaguluhan," he added. 

(They can't leave their jobs and we understand their situation. Our understanding with the Filipino community here is that while the Embassy is ready to repatriate them, if they are not ready, they should just make sure to avoid the conflict.) 

A member of the central security support force holds a weapon during a security deployment in the Tajura neighborhood, east of Tripoli, Libya Dec. 30, 2019. Ismail Zitouny, Reuters/File

During talks in Moscow on Monday, Haftar delayed signing a ceasefire agreement that would end 9 months of fighting with the UN-recognized government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj. 
 
Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has been under attack since last April from forces loyal to Haftar, who is based in the east of the country along with his loyalist politicians.

The 2 sides were expected to agree the terms of a ceasefire that took effect over the weekend, raising hopes of an end to the latest fighting to wrack the oil-rich North African country since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sarraj and the head of High Council of State in Tripoli, Khaled al-Mechri, have signed the document, but Haftar and his ally Aguila Saleh "have asked for a bit more time until morning" to study it. 

Turkey and Russia's foreign and defence ministers acted as mediators, but the rival delegations did not apparently meet face-to-face. With a report from Agence France-Presse 

DZMM, Jan. 14, 2020