Most OFWs in Libya oppose repatriation

The Department of Foreign Affairs has failed to convince most of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) deployed in Tripoli, Libya to go back home despite mounting political instability in the Middle Eastern country.

Philippine Embassy Charge d’Affaires Elmer Cato has already appealed to the families in the Philippines of OFWs in Tripoli “to help us convince them to go home.”

“We understand they are here to provide for their families back home but the situation here is becoming increasingly dangerous for those who want to stay. Like their loved ones in the Philippines, we just want our kababayans here to be safe. We want to bring them home alive,” according to Cato.

Rocket attacks on a neighborhood in Tripoli from the advancing army of military strongman Khalifa Haftar had already wounded one Filipino in an area where more than 200 Filipinos are residing. Another mortar attacks struck a hospital with 18 Filipinos in the outskirts where heavy fighting is taking place.

At the St. Francis Church, OFWs told Cato thay would rather stay than go home to the Philippines where there is no assurance of a stable job. “Despite all our efforts, we just could not convince our kababayan here to take our offer to bring them home while we still can. If we cannot do it, then perhaps their families in the Philippines can,” said Cato.

At least seven OFWs were already repatriated and another 22 OFWs requested assistance for voluntary repatriation. “We are hoping the number of requests for repatriation would go up. We have received some queries from other Filipinos but they are still undecided,” said Cato.

“We will continue to go where our people are. We will continue to call them. We will continue to engage them online. We will not stop while we still can, while we still have a window to get them out.”

The eastern-based Libyan National Army’s (LNA) of Haftar continues to advance towards Tripoli earlier this month engaging soldiers of the United Nations-recognized Tripoli government, the western-based Government of the National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.

Libya has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014 due to a power struggle. Al-Sarraj build a new government in Tripoli back in March 2016 but the Haftar administration in the eastern city of Tobruk refused to recognize its authority.

More than 200 people have already died because of the urban conflict and more than 800,000 migrants are expected to flee the ongoing strife.

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