Leave Iraq, Philippines orders nationals

Paterno Esmaquel II
The Department of Foreign Affairs raises crisis alert level 4 in Iraq, which means mandatory repatriation for Filipinos in that country

LATEST FLASHPOINT. Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire missiles during clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria jihadist group in Jalawla in the Diyala province, Iraq, on June 14, 2014. Photo by Rick Findler/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines ordered its nationals in Iraq on Thursday, June 19, to leave the Middle Eastern country that faces a “life-threatening” crisis because of a militant offensive.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued the directive as it raised crisis alert level 4 in Iraq, except the Kurdistan region.

The DFA cited the “rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq” for raising crisis alert level 4, which entails mandatory repatriation.

The government will shoulder repatriation expenses.

“Filipinos in Iraq will be assisted by the Philippine embassy in Baghdad and the rapid response team, which are currently undertaking registration of overseas Filipino workers for repatriation,” the DFA said.

“The DFA continues to closely monitor the political and security developments in Iraq,” it added.

Level 1 in ‘calm, stable’ region

Iraq’s Kurdistan region, which “remains relatively calm and stable,” however remains under alert level 1 (precautionary phase).

Up to 2,275 Filipinos live in Iraq, based on the stock estimate of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

The militant offensives in that country have forced Baghdad to call for US air strikes on militants who attacked the country’s main oil refinery and seized more territory in the north.

The White House said Obama has not ruled out such strikes after a lightning 8-day offensive by Sunni fighters, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL), that has seen them rapidly bear down on the capital. (READ: Southeast Asian recruits join jihadist ISIS)

While officials touted progress, militants seized 3 villages in northern Iraq and India said 40 of its nationals were kidnapped in Mosul, the city captured last week by insurgents at the onset of their offensive. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.