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DFA : Phil Embassy in Damascus Repatriates 1,008 Filipinos from Syria

27 February 2012 – The Philippine Embassy in Damascus repatriated a total of 1,008 Filipino nationals, who availed of the Philippine Government’s offer to repatriate them to the Philippines, since the beginning of unrests in Syria.

The figure included the new batch of 35 Filipino nationals, all women, who arrived in Manila on two separate Emirates Airlines flights on February 26.

Initially, there were 36 Filipino nationals who were due to arrive yesterday but one of them was not able to board due to problems with her immigration papers.

Twenty Filipinos arrived yesterday afternoon via Emirates Airlines (EK) flight no. 332 with the Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Olivia Palala.

Another 15 Filipino nationals arrived yesterday evening via EK flight no. 334.

Nine of the Filipino repatriates were from governorates which are identified as conflict-stricken areas in Syria. Seven of these nine Filipino repatriates were from Homs, one was from Hama and another one was from Idlib.

Nine of them were overstaying workers repatriated directly from the Kaffarseuseh detention in Damascus while 24 other distressed Filipino repatriates were temporarily sheltered at the Embassy’s halfway house.

The Embassy negotiated with the Syrian employers and with the Syrian authorities for the issuance of the Filipinos’ exit visas. The Filipino repatriates’ tickets were likewise shouldered entirely by the Philippine Government.

A Rapid Response Team, composed of Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel, remains in Syria and continues to help out in the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in conflict areas.

Crisis alert level 4 is currently in place over Syria and the mandatory evacuation of all Filipinos in the country is underway.

Earlier, the DFA requests the families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Syria, more particularly those who are are in the conflict areas of Homs, Hama, Dara’a, and Idlib, to provide information on the whereabouts of their relatives and their latest contact details.

The next-of-kin of Filipinos in Syria are encouraged to assist the DFA and help ensure the safety of their family members by providing up to date contact information.

Interested parties may call the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) at (02) 834-3245 or (02) 834-3240.

The DFA is doing its utmost to reach all Filipinos in Syria to inform them of the measures implemented by the Philippine Government and get them out of harm’s way. END