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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised alert level 3 in Iraq amid a “higher than expected” surge in terrorist and sectarian violence after the United States withdrew its military forces in December 2011.
This means the DFA is offering voluntary repatriation at government expense to Filipinos who wish to leave Iraq, the agency said in a statement Wednesday, February 1.
The alert level covers all regions of Iraq except the northern autonomous region of Kurdistan near the country’s border with Turkey, the DFA said.
“A ban on the further deployment of OFWs is automatically imposed in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment. Filipinos are likewise advised not to travel to the affected areas while alert level 3 is in effect,” the DFA added.
Based on embassy records, 192 overseas Filipino workers reside in Iraq’s Kurdish region while 279 are in the rest of the country.
Iraqi Foreign Miniser Hoshyar Zebari has assured Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Del Rosario that the Iraqi government is willing to assist in the Philippine government’s repatriation efforts.
The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has led to violence that could lead to “open sectarian warfare.” One of the latest acts of violence involve a suicide car bomber striking a funeral procession last Friday, January 27, and killing 33. – Rappler.com