DOLE braces for possible repatriation of OFWs from Libya

MANILAThe Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is gearing up for a possible repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Libya.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said an augmentation team composed of six people (three support personnel and three welfare officers) is set to be deployed to the host country next week.

I am sending an augmentation team there. Just in case of a forced repatriation, he said in an interview on Wednesday.

However, Bello said he is not privy on whether there will be a forced repatriation.

I am not in the position to say that. It is the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which is assessing the situation in coordination with our posts. Our Philippine Overseas Labor Office. (They are the ones who fully understand the situation), Bello added.

The DOLE chief reported that so far, they have not received any request regarding voluntarily repatriation from the more than 2,600 Filipinos workers in Tripoli, majority of whom are skilled workers.

Our estimate is about only 10 to 20 percent of OFWs there would want to go home. All the rest would want to stay. But if reaches (alert) level 4, then it will be forced repatriation. Level 3 it will still be voluntary repatriation, Bello explained.

He added that there are no Filipinos in conflict-stricken areas.

What we are only worried about is that the situation might worsen. Of course, we have to prepare for any exigency, the DOLE Secretary said.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) urged Filipinos in Libya to heed to the call of the DFA.

Situation is Libya is uncertain, volatile and unstable. Their stay is not secured, and their work is not stable. For the safety and security of our OFWs in Libya we at CBCP-ECMI, support and encourage them to heed the appeal of our DFA to return home, Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the CBCP-ECMI, said in an interview.

We surely believe our government will assist them here. And we have Migrant Ministries in our Arch/Dioceses to help them, he added.

On Monday, the DFA urged Filipinos in the Libyan capital and nearby areas to consider getting themselves and their dependents repatriated after raising Crisis Alert Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation Phase) in the area.

Last week, the Presidential Council in Libya placed security forces on alert after units loyal to the rival Libyan National Army announced they have begun advancing towards Tripoli, triggering some limited clashes south of the capital that left one person dead.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres initially expressed "deep concern" over the military movement and the risk of confrontation it poses. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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