By Libya Herald staff.
9 March 2015:
Following the kidnapping of four Filipino oil workers during Friday’s attack at Ghani oilfield by IS . . .[restrict]gunmen, Filipinos in Tripoli now want to join the exodus of their fellow countrymen from Libya.
Those in the capital have been phoning up the Philippine embassy to ask about repatriation, the Libya Herald has been told by a Philippine official.
The Philippines told its citizens in Libya to leave some time ago but there are still some 4,240 in the country, the official said. Despite Manila’s call, significant numbers stayed on, fearing that they would lose their jobs if they left.
There is an on-going multiple repatriation programme organised by the embassy, by land via Tunisia. Two weeks ago, 77 were repatriated and another 36 on 5 March. Yesterday, 41 arrived in Tunis from Tripoli and are due to fly to the Philippines tomorrow.
Fifty-two of the Filipinos working at the Ghani field for Austrian oil services company VAOS had been evacuated to Tripoli two weeks ago when the field stopped operating because of fears, following the 3 February attack at the Mabruk field in which three Filipino oil workers were seized by IS, that it could be a target. The Philippines Foreign Ministry Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose was quoted by the Philippine online news service GMA News saying that the four, along with the other five foreigners who were seized with them on Friday, had remained at the field.
The 52 are being accommodated by the embassy and a special evacuation to repatriate them is due on 11 March, although so far just 36 have signed up to go.
“We are expecting more to sign up in the coming days,” Jose was quoted as saying.
Other Filipinos, working in Tripoli, have been calling up the embassy to see if there are places available in Wednesday’s evacuation, this paper was told separately.
The whole process of evacuating Filipinos from east, west and south Libya is “quite a logistical challenge”, the Filipino official added, saying that two evacuations a month were now planned.
The embassy has, meanwhile, been coordinating “on a daily basis” with the Austrian company VAOS over the fate of the four Filipinos seized.
An Austrian Foreign Ministry delegation is currently travelling to Tripoli for talks about the abduction. A Czech official is reportedly with the delegation. An Austrian and a Czech are among the nine kidnapped at Ghani. [/restrict]