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OFWs Rescued from War-torn Syria
« on: August 14, 2012, 07:12:24 PM »
Another batch of 23 Filipinos have been successfully rescued by the Philippine government in conflict-stricken Syria, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

Most of the repatriates are from the Syrian capital of Damascus while some are from the violence-plagued city of Aleppo, the DFA said.

Ten of them, including two minors, arrived in Manila last August 7, one on August 8, four on August 09, and eight more on August 12.

The arrival of the new batch of Filipino workers in Syria brings to 2,060 the total number of Filipinos who have been repatriated to the Philippines since the government of President Benigno S. Aquino III mounted its mandatory repatriation plan in March 2011 due to the fierce fighting and uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A civil war has engulfed the Arab nation and the Al-Assad regime has continued to step up its offensives against civilians and rebels despite an array of sanctions and condemnations by the United Nations, the United States and its Western and Middle East allies.

Between 8,000 to 9,000 Filipino workers, based in the critical areas of Damascus, Homs, Daraa, Aleppo, and Idlib, are still in Syria, the DFA said.

As the violence in Syria escalates, the DFA urged the families of Filipinos in Syria to provide the department with updated information regarding their relatives' current location and contact details in Syria so Philippine Embassy officials can help track and rescue them.

They may contact the DFA in Manila at following numbers: (02) 834-4996 or (02) 834-3333 while Filipinos in Syria can call the embassy in Damascus at 963-11-6132626 should they wish to join in the government-assisted evacuation.

The DFA is shouldering the repatriation expenses of the Filipino workers, but many continue to balk on the government’s offer.

Many of the workers insisted on staying because they feel safe in areas where they are working and are guaranteed protection by their employers.

Earlier, exit visa fees, penalties, and other administrative requirements of fleeing Filipinos have been waived by the Syrian government following an appeal made by Philippine officials there.

An exit visa is required for each departing foreign worker and securing it is usually a tedious process and delays the evacuation of many Filipino workers.

The Syrian government likewise assured Manila that it will assist in the repatriation of more Filipinos who have signified their intention to come home. - pna

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