2,000 more Filipinos sign up to flee Libya

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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This means 1 out of 5 Filipinos in Libya has either arrived in the Philippines or signed up to flee the strife-torn country

FOR FILIPINOS IN LIBYA. Filipino children hold placards during a protest outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, the Philippines, August 5, 2014. More countries moved to evacuate their nationals from Libya where the fighting between rival militias escalated. Photo by Ritchie Tongo/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – More than 2,000 Filipinos have signed up to flee Libya as the North African country remains on the brink of civil war, the Philippines said Wednesday, August 6.

Once they arrive in the Philippines, this would bring to around 2,973 the number of Filipino repatriates from Libya. That is equivalent to about one in 5 of Filipinos who stayed in Libya before repatriation began.

In a media briefing Wednesday, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose enumerated the repatriates as follows: 

  • 1,036 evacuating by sea from Misrata and Benghazi
  • 599 evacuating by land from Tripoli
  • 400 evacuating as paid for by their private employer, Hyundai

The DFA projected at least 938 Filipinos from Libya to have arrived in the country by Wednesday.

This means around 22.86% of the original 13,000 Filipinos in Libya have either arrived in the Philippines or signed up for repatriation.

This remains a small number compared to the 13,500 Filipino workers who fled Libya in 2011, during the Libyan unrest that toppled dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

Jose said the Philippine government expects more Filipinos in Libya to register for repatriation. Others could show up, though unregistered, when the Philippines’ chartered ship is about to leave.

Repatriation could cost P169M

Explaining their refusal to leave the strife-torn country, Filipinos have cited the fear of joblessness, Jose earlier said. (READ: Filipinos in Libya: We can survive war, not joblessness)

“We’re counting hopefully on getting as many people as possible,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Del Rosario told reporters on Tuesday, August 5. “We’re committed to get everyone out.”

The Philippines, in fact, could spend up to P169.494 million ($3.9 million) to repatriate Filipinos from Libya, based on estimates provided by the DFA.

Libya has suffered chronic insecurity since Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, with the new government facing a growing threat from Islamist groups and unable to check militias that helped to remove him.

Fighting between rival militias in Tripoli over the past weeks and bloody clashes between Islamists and army special forces in the eastern city of Benghazi have prompted several countries to evacuate their nationals and diplomatic staff. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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