Manila, 30 April 2023 (TDI): The secretary for foreign affairs of the Philippines, along with representatives from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA), and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) welcomed the first group of seventeen Filipino refugees from Sudan.
The evacuees arrived in Manila on 29 April 2023 after departing from Athens, Greece, and Jeddah.
Eight overseas Filipinos who were hotel employees in Sudan boarded a military evacuation flight after the Philippine Embassy in Athens successfully lobbied the Greek government on their behalf.
The party was welcomed by the Embassy in Athens on Friday, April 28, 2023, in the morning, and the Embassy quickly made arrangements for their return journey to the Philippines using the DFA’s Assistance-to-Nationals Fund.
The remaining nine Filipinos living abroad, including one child, escaped from Khartoum via Port Sudan and boarded a Saudi Royal Air Force C130 flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The group arrived at the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah on Thursday, April 27, 2023.
Aid was offered to the evacuees right away by granting visas to those who did not have their original passports, and aid was offered to the evacuees right away by granting visas to those who did not have their prior passports with them.
While the Consulate organized the flight for the other evacuee, a student in Sudan, the OWWA provided the return flight tickets for eight of the evacuees who were overseas Filipino workers.
Secretary Manalo emphasized that Foreign Affairs teams are currently on the ground to ease the repatriation of these overseas Filipinos and stated that “the Philippine government is working round-the-clock to assist our kababayans who have left Sudan.”
To support the evacuation efforts, personnel from the Department of National Defence, the OWWA, and the DMW have also been sent.
Secretary Manalo used the occasion to express gratitude to foreign nations for their assistance to the Philippines, emphasizing the crucial role diplomacy plays in protecting the well-being of Filipinos living abroad in times of crisis.
610 Filipinos have fled Khartoum; 391 of them used vehicles chartered by the Philippine Embassy in Cairo and the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Sudan to cross the border into Egypt.
While DMW and OWWA prepare for housing and other welfare assistance during transit, the Embassy is currently setting up their temporary visas and repatriation flights to the Philippines.
Another 45 Filipinos living abroad are anticipated to be evacuated by ship to Saudi Arabia, where the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah is also offering assistance as needed.
A power battle between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which broke out in violence on April 15, has resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives, delaying a transition towards democratic elections that were supported globally.