The first batch of 17 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were evacuated from Sudan arrived in the country on Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
“As I welcome the 1st batch of repatriates from Sudan, I’m inspired by their fortitude and resilience. I’m grateful to our DFA teams, PH agencies and international partners who work nonstop to ensure the safety of our kababayans. Protecting overseas Filipinos is our government’s solemn pledge,” DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo said in a Twitter post.
The evacuees flew out Friday from Athens, Greece and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the DFA said.
Eight of the evacuees were hotel workers in Sudan who left the conflict-torn state through a Greek military evacuation flight.
“The remaining nine overseas Filipinos, including one infant, fled Khartoum via Port Sudan where they boarded a C130 plane of the Saudi Royal Air Force bound for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,” the DFA said.
Data from the DFA showed some 610 Filipinos have been evacuated from Khartoum, more than half of which have crossed to the Egyptian border.
In a separate statement, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople said some 340 OFWs in war-torn Sudan may be home safe soon.
Ople told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that a DMW team and a contingent from the Philippine embassy in Cairo are currently attending to a large group of OFWs wanting to flee the conflict in Sudan.
“The embassy and our DMW teams will make sure they will all be treated well onboard buses and in Cairo,” Ople said.
Ople added that DFA officials and personnel were processing the required clearances and exit visas for the immediate repatriation of the Filipinos from the northeastern African country.
Ople earlier flew to Cairo to lead the distribution of welfare assistance to the evacuated OFWs displaced by the fighting in Sudan.
Meanwhile, the DFA announced that the OFWs were safely evacuated from Sudan over the last 12 hours through government initiatives.
Philippine Ambassador to Egypt Ezzedin Tago welcomed the 340 Filipinos from Khartoum at the Argeen border Saturday morning after they were cleared by Egyptian authorities for entry. There have been delays in the processing at the Egyptian border due to the influx of evacuees.
DFA teams in Athens, Jeddah, and at the Egypt-Sudan border have been assisting Filipinos from Khartoum and were making arrangements for their repatriation aboard the next available flights.
Coordination with the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Greece on the safe passage of Filipino evacuees was continuing through the Philippine embassies.
On Tuesday, President Marcos said the government was doing the necessary preparations in anticipation of the 72-hour ceasefire declared in Sudan, hoping it could provide an opportunity to bring home Filipinos from the war-torn country.
“Right now, we are hoping that the 72-hour ceasefire that has been declared will hold and we will — we are preparing ourselves,” the President said.
“So we’re trying — we’re watching this situation very, very closely and to see if there’s a window of opportunity na mailabas natin ang mga Philippine nationals natin,” he added.