More overseas Filipino workers want to leave Libya -- Department of Foreign Affairs

Evacuated from Tripoli, Libya

THE Philippine Embassy in Libya yesterday said the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are willing to return home have increased as fighting in the Libyan capital and its neighboring areas escalate.

Philippine Embassy to Libya Charge d’Affaires Elmer Cato said if the fighting continues to escalate and expose more  Filipinos to danger, they may be compelled to recommend raising the alert level to IV.

Amid the present situation in Tripoli, majority of the OFWs still want to stay.

“Despite the jump in the number of Filipinos who want to go home, majority of our kababayan in Tripoli and surrounding areas still want to stay in Libya,” he said.

Yesterday, the Philippine Embassy evacuated four more OFWs from Tripoli, bringing to 11 the number of Filipinos who have been escorted out of the Libyan capital as intense fighting broke out  more than two weeks ago.

Two female nurses and their husbands, who are all from Taguig City, have crossed the Libya-Tunisian border accompanied by Director Iric Arribas of the Officer of Migrant Affairs.

They were expected to arrive in Tunisia yesterday while a team from the Department of Foreign Affairs will assist their repatriation.

“Fifteen other Filipinos working at a carpet factory near where fighting is raging also contacted us to express their desire to return home,” Cato said.

He said the cost of the OFWs repatriation will be shouldered by their employer but they are requesting the Embassy to shoulder their plane tickets  to their respective provinces.

A nurse from Gharyan also came to the Embassy yesyerdaty  to seek  help in getting him home.

This brings to 40 the total number of Filipinos who have requested assistance in leaving Tripoli.

“The Embassy will evacuate the remaining 29 Filipino workers as soon as we secure their exit clearances from Libyan authorities,” Cato said.

They are mostly nurses, including some 50 of them working at the Masarra Clinic, which Embassy officers visited yesterday morning.

The nurses said they will not go home despite the looming danger just a few kilometers away because, according to them, they were assured that their employer will take care of them.

“Our nurses at Masarra told us their decision to stay in Tripoli is not all about money. It is also about giving back. One senior nurse told us their  Libyan employer treats them like they are part of his family so staying there is one way for them to thank him for his kindness,” Cato said.