MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has deployed two augmentation teams to Libya to beef up the Philippine Embassy’s operations as fighting near Tripoli intensified.
The first team led by Executive Director Enrico Fos of the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs arrived in Tunis on Saturday where it will be stationed to assist Filipinos that the Embassy will be evacuating from Tripoli.
Meanwhile, the second team led by Director Iric Arribas will be arriving in Tripoli on Sunday to assist the Filipinos in the capital should the situation require mass evacuation of OFWs.
“We still have not declared Level IV. The deployment of the augmentation teams is in anticipation of a possible surge in the number of Filipinos who may want to avail themselves of the repatriation program once fighting enters the capital itself,” Chargé d’Affaires Elmer Cato said in a text message.
According to the envoy, fighting is still confined to the capital’s outskirts as of Saturday, noting that the combatants have been fielding heavy ground-based weapons as well as aerial bombardment.
To date, the Embassy said it has already received 19 requests for repatriation.
While the conflict has yet to enter Tripoli, Cato said the Embassy remains proactive and aggressive in calling upon Filipinos in the area to “seriously consider” the government’s repatriation offer while it still can.
Places affected by the conflict include Sawani, Azizia, Qasr Ben Ghashir, Khallet Forjan, Ain Zara and Wadi Al-Rabee.
Based from the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) data, significant numbers of civilians remain stuck in these areas and are unable to move to comparatively safer areas.
It is situational report dated April 12 said low evacuation rates could be attributed to ongoing clashes, and reports of the indiscriminate and deliberate targeting of ambulance vehicles. (PNA)