Stay safe if you don’t want to leave, PH embassy urges OFWs in Libya

THE Philippine Embassy in Tripoli has recommended to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to raise to level III the alert there amid intensified fighting that claimed the lives of 21 people and wounded more than 90 others.

In his appeal to Filipino workers in Libya that was posted to his facebook account, Philippine Charge d’Affaires to Tripoli Elmer Cato urged overseas Fipino workers (OFWs) in Tripoli to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety if they do not want to be repatriated.

“You all have your reasons why you chose to remain here in Tripoli. We understand those reasons. While we urge you to consider getting repatriated back to the Philippines, we also know that we could not force you to go,” Cato said.

He told the OFWs if they cannot convince them to go home, “all that we ask you to do is to take the proper precautions to ensure your safety in the coming days.”

The Charge d’Affaires noted “We know that many of you who are here are veterans of the most violent periods in Libya’s recent history. Many of you have told us that since you have survived those episodes, you will also survive the current one. We all hope that you do. We all pray that we do. But none of us can really be certain.”
Cato cited some other kababayan told them that the “latest fighting seems to be different from previous ones in terms of intensity.”

“They may be right. We have noted the use of heavy weapons, including multiple rocket launchers and have seen battle tanks being moved to the frontlines,” he said.

Cato said they have seen the damage the shelling that took place yesterday inflicted on residential houses and some establishments in the outskirts of Tripoli.

“A stray shell actually landed in the yard of the next door neighbor of our Libyan staff, forcing him and his family to flee,” Cato said.

When Alert Level III is raised, OFWs who are now in the Philippines or are about to travel to the Philippines will not be allowed to return to Tripoli until the situation there normalizes.

Cato gave assurances he and the rest of the Embassy staff will not be leaving Tripoli and will stay there until there are Filipinos in the area.

He advised OFWs who wish to return to the Philippines or need to move to a safer location to contact the Embassy as soon as possible.