Amidst the escalating fighting in Iraq, the government on Wednesday deployed a Rapid Response Team to Erbil, a few kilometers from the area of fighting, to monitor and come in aid if the situation escalates.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the government has prepared some contingency plans to protect all overseas Filipino workers if the fighting in Mosul escalates.
“There are appropriate steps that would have to be taken to ensure that the Philippine government is ready to lead all overseas Filipino workers [OFWs] in Kurdistan out if harm’s way,” Yasay said.
Yasay said, he instructed the RRT through DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Jesus Yabes, to assess the situation in Iraq, issue advisories and alerts, and engage with the Filipino community in Erbil and neighboring areas.
The deployment of the RRT, Yasay said, is a proactive measure to assure that safety of Filipino citizens in Kurdistan and the country’s readiness to assist them in time of crisis.
There is no established Philippine diplomatic or consular presence in the Kurdistan Region.
The Philippine embassies in Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran then were the ones who have been instructed to activate their crisis teams to prepare for contingencies in the event that OFWs are transported across their borders.