The Department of Foreign Affairs has deployed two augmentation teams to Libya to beef up the Philippine Embassy’s operations as fighting near Tripoli intensified.
The first team led by Executive Director Enrico Fos of the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs arrived in Tunis on Saturday where it will be stationed to assist Filipinos who will be evacuating from Tripoli.
The second team, led by Director Iric Arribas, arrived in Tripoli on Sunday to assist the Filipinos in the capital should the situation require mass evacuation of OFWs.
“We still have not declared Level IV. The deployment of the augmentation teams is in anticipation of a possible surge in the number of Filipinos who may want to avail themselves of the repatriation program once fighting enters the capital itself,” Chargé d’Affaires Elmer Cato said in a text message.
According to the envoy, fighting is still confined to the capital’s outskirts as of Saturday, with combatants fielding heavy ground-based weapons as well as aerial bombardment.
To date, the embassy has already received 19 requests for repatriation.
While the conflict has yet to enter Tripoli, Cato said the embassy remains proactive and aggressive in calling upon Filipinos in the area to “seriously consider” the government’s repatriation offer while it still can.
Places affected by the conflict include Sawani, Azizia, Qasr Ben Ghashir, Khallet Forjan, Ain Zara and Wadi Al-Rabee.
Data from the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showed a significant number of civilians remain stuck in these areas.
In its situational report dated April 12, the UN agency said low evacuation rates could be attributed to ongoing clashes, and reports of indiscriminate and deliberate targeting of ambulance vehicles.
READ: Repatriation order on Libya poised