Friday, February 4, 2011

PHL Embassy in Cairo sends food to 'trapped' OFWs

As violence in Egypt escalated, many OFWs have stayed indoors for fear of their lives, unable to buy food and with some even reporting a shortage of drinking water.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said on Friday that the embassy sent food and water to "trapped" Filipinos, while assuring the public that they are all safe, albeit afraid.

Seguis said some OFWs could not buy food as banks are closed until at least Sunday.

In the meantime, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ed Malaya reassured the Filipino community in Egypt that the Philippine Embassy there has enough resources and manpower to repatriate them.

"(The Embassy has enough) resources (and) manpower and we have voluntary repatriation. We have the capability to bring them home and we will bring them home safely," he said.

The first batch of fleeing OFWs will board their flight for Manila from Dubai at 6:55 p.m. Saturday, and will arrive in the country around 4:20 p.m. Sunday. They number 26 after a family of four decided to stay in Egypt. Three others took their place.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Eduardo Malaya on Saturday said that barring sudden changes, at least 20 Filipinos will comprise the second batch of repatriated OFWs and their families.

"There will be a second batch. We are working on another 20, assuming none of them will back out," he said in an interview on dzBB.

"The repatriation process is subject to sudden changes. In the case of the first batch, we were in the middle of processing the flight when four members of a family backed out, presumably because they felt it was still safe to stay in Egypt. But three Filipinos took their place," he said.

Some 6,569 Filipinos are in Egypt, which is being rocked by protests against President Hosni Mubarak.

Violence erupted in some parts of the country earlier this week when protesters clashed with Mubarak's supporters.

Asked why there are only 26 Pinoys for the fist batch and around 20 for a possible second batch, Malaya said, "At the moment, the repatriation program is still on a voluntary basis. A mandatory repatriation is not yet seen as necessary." — LBG/HS, GMANews.TV

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