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Crisis in Haiti prompts government to bring 63 Filipinos home

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At least 63 Filipinos in Haiti are about to be repatriated amid the ongoing conflict in the Caribbean country due to violent gang activities, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) announced.

DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo approved the recommendation following the declaration of Alert Level 3, encouraging voluntary repatriation for Filipinos. There are 115 Filipinos currently in the Caribbean island-nation.

“The DFA, DMW, and OWWA are now looking to charter a flight for the 63 Filipinos since no flights are coming out of Haiti, and land travel to the capital Port-au-Prince is also discouraged,” according to a joint statement released by the agencies over the weekend.

As of this posting, there is no report of any Filipino affected or injured by the ongoing security crisis.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez and the local DMW-Migrant Workers’ Office-OWWA are coordinating with the Philippine Honorary Consul General in Haiti, Fitzgerald Oliver James Brandt, and Filipino community leader Bernadette Villagracia regarding the planned repatriation of Filipinos in Haiti.

Haiti is currently experiencing a breakdown of law and order, with reports of civilian casualties and disruption in operations.

The UN children’s agency chief offered a dire assessment Sunday of the chaotic situation in Haiti, saying it was “almost like a scene out of ‘Mad Max,'” which depicted a violent and lawless post-apocalyptic future.

“Haiti is a horrific situation,” UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell told CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”

“Many, many people there are suffering from serious hunger and malnutrition and we’re not able to get enough aid to them,” with gangs controlling large parts of capital Port-au-Prince as well as key roads leading elsewhere.

The situation is “the worst that anyone has seen in decades,” she said.

“It’s almost like a scene out of ‘Mad Max.’ That’s what it seems like,” Russell said of the 1979 film.

Haiti, already hit by drought, natural disaster and weak government, has seen “the near-collapse of basic services,” a recent United Nations report warned.

That has left millions vulnerable as they await the formation of a transitional governing council to take power after unpopular Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned under pressure. – With AFP


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