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Filipinos in Libya urged to return home

MANILA (UCAN): Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, the head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, appealed to Filipinos in Libya to return home as fears of renewed civil war intensify.
 
The bishop said the situation in Libya is “uncertain, volatile and unstable” and the safety of Filipino migrants there “is not secure.”
 
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs has already urged Filipinos in Libya to opt for voluntary repatriation to avoid getting caught up in the fighting.
 
The call was made following an escalation in fighting, including the shelling of residential areas on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli.
 
Thousands of people have reportedly fled their homes as a result of fighting.
 
Philippine authorities said Filipinos in areas near the fighting should move to safer areas or request assistance from the embassy for their repatriation.
 
Bishop Santos said the country’s Catholic bishops “support and encourage” Filipinos to heed the appeal of the Foreign Affairs department.
 
Elmer Cato, charge d’affaires of the Philippine embassy in Tripoli, said they are urging Filipinos to seriously consider repatriation. 
 
“But unfortunately ... only 11 Filipinos have requested assistance to be repatriated,” he remarked on April 10. 
 
“I think most (Filipinos) here in Tripoli are maintaining a wait-and-see attitude,” he said, adding that  most Filipinos in Libya had been in Tripoli during “some of the worst fighting in its history” and believe the situation will stabilise in the coming days.
 
Cato said the situation was “business as usual,” although he said “heavy fighting” was reported on the outskirts of the city.
 
The Philippine government imposed a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Libya in the second week of April because of fighting between rival militias for control of the North African nation’s capital.
 
There are more than 2,600 Filipinos in Libya, many working as nurses, teachers and in the oil industry.
 
Fighting for control of the capital has threatened to plunge Libya deeper into chaos and ignite a civil war on the scale of the 2011 NATO supported uprising.
 
The Philippines is one of the world’s major providers of labour, with a tenth of its more than 100 million people working abroad, including many domestic helpers and construction workers.

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