Evacuation of over 28,000 Filipinos in Libya begins.
DUBAI -- The evacuation of more than 28,000 overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Libya started on Friday night as the Philippine government mobilised its diplomatic missions in the Middle East to evacuate them to the islands in Greece and Tunisia and the seaports of Alexandria in Egypt and Malta to be airlifted to Dubai and back to Manila.
Philippine President Noynoy Aquino ordered the evacuation as more families of Filipino workers across Libya reported rampant thefts, including company vehicles, which might later make it difficult for them to move to safer grounds. Also, the fast escalating political trouble has led to the stoppage of food supplies to their workplaces.The first 32 evacuees from the different desert areas of Tripoli were brought to Malta on Friday night, which signaled the start of the mass evacuation for Filipino expatriates caught in the political unrest in Tripoli, Libya.
Consul-General Benito B Valeriano, who served as Charge d' Affaires in Libya for four years before his assignment in Dubai, told Khaleej Times that the first group of evacuees, will be airlifted by chartered flights to Dubai before they are taken safely to the Philippines. "There are already 300 Filipino expatriates waiting for evacuation to Dubai at Gerba, the border of Libya and Tunisa. We will charter flights to bring them here to Dubai and thereafter to Manila."
Assisting the Philippine government in the evacuation operations to Malta are the Maltese Ferry and the British Navy frigate.
Consul-General Valeriano said he would be shuttling between Malta and Gerba at the Libyan-Tunisian border and Dubai to make sure these OFWs are safely brought back to Manila. He said that the evacuation of Filipino workers from Libya will be done in three ways depending on their location. "They will be brought to the east coast of Alexandria in Egypt or to the island of Malta by sea, or by land to the Tunisia-Libya border of Gerba. Each of this post is manned by the Ambassadors to Greece, Bong Vigno, Ambassador to Egypt, Eddie Maglaya, and Libya Ambassador, Al Vicente."
Early, at 5am on Saturday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario arrived in Dubai, and after a briefing with the Consul-General, departed at 9am to Gerba to open the post for the evacuation of the workers with Undersecretary Esteban Conejos of the Office for Migrant Workers Affairs (OMWA) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila and Minister and Charge d' Affaires Adel Cruz of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi. It is expected that by mid-Saturday, the mass evacuation operations for the OFWs in Libya will be in full swing.
Ambassador Al Vicente in Tripoli, Libya, is supervising the evacuation from the city areas to the Philippine Community School, which is now converted into an evacuation centre.
Consul-General Valeriano said that his Arabic-speaking staff, Mohammed J Prokunom, was sent with the team headed by a Maltese honorary consul, Sarah Gretch, to oversee the evacuation. "Ambassador Eric Andaya, deputy chief of OMWA, is manning the Philippine evacuation post in Bhengazi, Libya's eastern coastal city and the bloodiest frontline between the military forces and the demonstrators. From there, Filipinos are brought by sea to Alexandria, Egypt. Our Ambassador to Egypt, Eddie Maglaya is coordinating with him in the operation," he said.
The evacuation from Tripoli to the Crete Island in Greece is supervised by Ambassador to Greece, Bong Vigno. From here, the evacuees will be flown by chartered flights to Greece and then to Manila. Valeriano said that all evacuations are done by sea because all the airports in Libya, especially in Tripoli, are now closed. -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2011 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.
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|Publication:||Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)|
|Date:||Feb 26, 2011|
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