Evacuation of Filipino Workers in Libya
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario left Manila on 25 February for Libya, to oversee the Philippines’ evacuation program for its nationals. Arriving in Tripoli on 27 February, he led on the following day the first evacuation convoy organized by the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, numbering 58 buses and vans, which carried 550 Filipino workers from Tripoli to the city of Djerba in Tunisia. Other overland evacuation routes from Tripoli to Tunisia and from Benghazi to the Egyptian border town of As Sallum have been established.
The Philippine Government and its Embassy in Tripoli established evacuation sites and routes, as well as shipping arrangements, to bring Filipino workers out of Libya. The Philippine Government has allotment PHP 100 million for the repatriation program and emergency services for affected Filipino workers.
The shipping arrangements will take Filipinos in Banghazi and in Tripoli to Crete, from where they will be flown to Manila. The Philippine Government chartered the vessel Ionian Queen to evacuate Filipinos stranded in the port city of Benghazi. The vessel left Athens on 28 February and was scheduled to arrive in Benghazi on 1 March.
Various companies have evacuated their Filipino manpower complements through commercial flights, flying them out of Libya to other cities – such as Madrid and Paris in Europe, or adjacent countries such as Malta and Egypt – then onward to Manila.
Places have been activated as relocation sites – the Philippine School in Tripoli, the Filipino Workers Resource Center in Tripoli, and the two Philippine Schools in Benghazi – where Filipinos can gather in safety for transferring to evacuation points. However, the sheer number of hundreds of Filipino workers seeking to leave the country have overcome these facilities.
The Philippine Embassies in Manama (Bahrain) and Riyadh (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) are on alert mode and are ready to implement an evacuation program if the situation calls for it. There are 31,000 Filipinos in Bahrain and 1,400 in Yemen. The Filipinos in Yemen are under the consular jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.
Philippine embassies and consulates in other countries are on full alert status to assist Filipino evacuees transiting through their jurisdictions.
On 26 February, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with telecommunication company Smart Communications set up a Libreng Tawag (free call) public service station for families in the Philippines to contact family members in Libya. Four 24/7 hotline numbers were also established for families to call for information on the situation of Filipino workers in Libya; the numbers are: +632 834 4580; +632 834 3245; +632 834 3240; and +632 834 4646.