The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday, September 16, that at least 18 Filipinos have expressed their intention to remain in Afghanistan for work, despite earlier calls for mandatory evacuation from the country issued in August.
In a bulletin released on Thursday, the DFA said 20 more Filipinos were still in Afghanistan, two of whom requested for repatriation and 18 others who said they would stay in the country for “work reasons.”
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said Filipinos who expressed the desire to stay included several who were working with Médecins sans frontières or Doctors Without Borders.
While the Philippine government raised its highest alert level 4 over the country, as with similar calls made in the past, it cannot compel all Filipinos to leave. The DFA earlier said it does its “best to convince people to leave” and will continue assist Filipinos as long as possible.
Since calling for mandatory evacuation on August 15, 191 Filipinos have left Afghanistan. This included three more Filipinos who were able to flee the country last weekend.
Locsin said many of the Filipinos who were in Afghanistan were able to leave the country through commercial and military flights that had extra room. “Parang (Like) chance passengers,” he tweeted.
In fleeing the country, the DFA said many Filipinos were able to leave the capital Kabul for Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Norway, and Kuwait, among other countries. Several Filipinos have since been able to return to the Philippines.
Along with foreigners leaving the country, thousands of Afghans were also seeking to flee Taliban rule.
At the DFA’s budget hearing in the Senate on Thursday, Locsin told lawmakers that several Afghan refugees, including women and children, were taken in by the Philippines recently. He declined to give more details to ensure their safety.
The Philippines earlier said it would open its doors to Afghan refugees, citing it was in line with the country’s long history of taking in asylum seekers since the first World War.
Locsin said the DFA will only accept asylum requests if it is coursed through official agencies of foreign governments to avoid dealing with groups who may profit from the thousands of refugees seeking to leave Afghanistan. – Rappler.com