2023 April 29
SAFE AT LAST. Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo (right) welcomes the first batch of 17 government-assisted Filipino evacuees who arrived home from strife-torn Sudan on Saturday (April 29, 2023). They flew out of Athens, Greece and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday. (Courtesy of DFA)
MANILA – Government officials, led by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo, on Saturday welcomed 17 Filipino evacuees at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The group arrived past 6:30 p.m. at Terminal 3 in Pasay City via Qatar Airways Flight No. QR 204.
Among the evacuees from conflict-torn Sudan are eight hotel workers.
A report from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) identified them as Myra Castro, Sherly Arciga, Arnel Nacion, Johnny Mariano, Humphrey Manipis, Jomel Mallari, Marben Prila and Vilma Loba.
Upon assessment, the DSWD, through its National Capital Region Field Office and its social workers, provided psychosocial intervention to the repatriated Filipinos as an initial assistance.
The eight fled from Khartoum, Sudan and arrived in Greece onboard a Greek military aircraft.
They were received by Philippine Ambassador to Greece Giovanni Palec.
On Friday, the 17 repatriates flew out of Athens, Greece and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, including the eight hotel workers, after representations with the Greek government through the Philippine Embassy in Athens.
The embassy received the group in Athens on the morning of Friday and arranged for their flight back to the Philippines through the DFA Assistance-to-Nationals Fund.
The other nine, including one infant, fled capital Khartoum via Port Sudan where they boarded a C130 plane of the Saudi Royal Air Force bound for Jeddah.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) provided the repatriation tickets for the eight workers while the consulate arranged for the flight of the other evacuee, a student.
The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah issued travel documents to those who did not have their original passports.
“The Philippine government is working round-the-clock to assist our kababayans (countrymen) who have left Sudan,” DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo said in a statement on Saturday.
The DFA said personnel from the Department of Migrant Workers, OWWA and the Department of National Defense have also been deployed to augment the evacuation efforts.
Manalo thanked the foreign governments which extended help to Filipinos streaming out of the strife-torn state.
As of posting time, 610 Filipinos have fled Khartoum, with 391 crossing to the Egyptian side of the border in buses chartered by the Philippine Embassy in Cairo and the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Sudan.
The Embassy is currently arranging for their temporary visas and repatriation flights to the Philippines, while DMW and OWWA are preparing for shelter and other welfare assistance during transit.
“The Embassy and our DMW teams will make sure they will all be treated well onboard buses and in Cairo,” DMW Secretary Susan Ople said.
Ople earlier flew to Cairo to lead the distribution of welfare assistance to evacuated OFWs from Sudan.
Joyce Ann Rocamora (PNA)