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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Filipino family chooses to go back to war-torn Gaza Strip, says DFA

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said six Filipinos belonging to one family decided to go back to Gaza City while awaiting a chance to cross the Rafah border to Egypt.

“They returned to Gaza City from southern Gaza where they were having space limitations in a flat,” DFA Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega said.

The DFA official made the statement even as the Philippine Embassy in Jordan said that 49 Filipinos remained unreachable in the  Gaza  Strip.

Ambassador Wilfredo Santos on Tuesday said that they were able to contact 87 Filipinos in the war-torn  strip.

This came even after Israeli telecommunication lines were cut off there and Paltel Group, which provides communications services in  Gaza  gradually restored landline, mobile, and internet services.

The embassy in Amman, Jordan, has jurisdiction over Filipinos and Philippine concerns in the  Gaza  Strip. Santos they were able to get in touch with the Filipinos starting at 4 a.m. today.

“We were able to contact 87 Filipinos, including 57 in Rafah. 49 Filipinos remain unreachable for now but we continue to get in touch with them,” he said in an interview.

The Department of Social Welfare and Department (DSWD) meanwhile said it has provided financial aid as a form of augmentation to support the fourth batch of Filipino repatriates who arrived from Israel on Monday.

The  DSWD  said the fourth batch of 64 overseas Filipino repatriates, including two babies, were welcomed by  DSWD  Program Management Bureau (PMB) Director Miramel Garcia-Laxa, together with other government officials, upon their arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). 

Each overseas Filipino received P10,000 cash relief assistance and food assistance worth P10,000.

DSWD  Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez said in a statement, tat the agency “will continue to monitor our fellow Filipinos who arrived from Israel. We, together with other concerned agencies, will   also continue to assist them, because they lost their jobs.”

Currently, there are still nine Filipino nationals in  Gaza  City, which is now being hit by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Of the nine Filipinos, there are three who want to remain there, including a Filipino nun.

De Vega, however, said that there was no information yet on the status of two missing Filipinos, and that they are considering them as “hostages.”

The Philippine government has raised Alert Level 4, or mandatory repatriation, in  Gaza  Strip but the border it shares with Egypt remains closed.

To date, a total of 123 overseas Filipinos have safely arrived in the country from Israel since the conflict between Israeli forces and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, began on October 7. With Maricel V. Cruz

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