MANILA, Philippines – The repatriation of Filipinos in Syria continues amid fears the United Nations-brokered ceasefire won’t hold, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday, April 17.
This comes as 25 more Filipinos are expected to arrive home from the strife-torn country. Three repatriated Filipinos arrived on Monday, April 16, the DFA said.
“The Philippine Embassy in Damascus is intensifying efforts to repatriate OFWs from outside the capital, where the situation is more fragile,” the department said in a statement.
Alert level 4 will remain hoisted for Syria, meaning repatriations will continue even with the ceasefire ongoing.
To date, the Philippine government has repatriated a total of 1,292 Filipinos from Syria.
Bloodshed despite truce
Syrian forces waged fierce gunfights Monday, April 16, with rebels in one city and shelled another, as the UN chief urged “maximum restraint” after the arrival of observers to oversee a truce aimed at ending 13 months of bloodshed.
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces killed at least 12 civilians and were fighting rebels at Idlib in the northwest, while also shelling the flashpoint central city of Homs, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Since a UN-backed ceasefire came into force at dawn Thursday, at least 55 people, mostly civilians, have died in violence that prompted UN chief Ban Ki-moon to urge Syria to ensure the truce does not collapse, the Observatory said.
It said on Monday that 11,117 people have been killed in 13 months of unrest — 7,972 civilians and 3,145 military and gunmen, including fewer than 600 rebel fighters. – With a report from the Agence France-Presse