MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 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 Worker’s Affairs arrived in Tunis on Saturday where he will be stationed to assist Filipinos evacuating from Tripoli.
Meanwhile, the second team led by Director Iric Arribas will arrive in Tripoli on Sunday to assist Filipinos in the capital should the situation require mass evacuation.
“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 the repatriation program once fighting enters the capital itself,” Chargé d’Affaires Elmer Cato said.
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 on the United Nation’s office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, significant numbers of civilians remain stuck in these areas and are unable to move to safer places.
In a situational report dated April 12, low evacuation rates could be attributed to ongoing clashes and the indiscriminate and deliberate targeting of ambulance vehicles. (With a report from PNA/PN)