MANILA, Philippines - About 25,000 Filipino domestic helpers in Lebanon were advised by Philippine officials there to remain inside their homes, keep off the streets and follow their employers to safer grounds when needed.
Joseph Assad, honorary consul of Lebanon to the Philippines and Abdul Kader Al Jadid, president of the Filipino-Lebanese Friendship Association issued the advisory after assessing the situation in Beirut, the country’s capital.
According to the statement issued by the two officials, Hezbollah gunmen seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods from Sunni foes loyal to the US-backed government on Friday as sectarian clashes reminiscent of Lebanon's bloody 15-year civil war raged in the capital.
At least 11 people were killed and over 20 were hurt in three days of street battles and gunfights in Beirut, according to the same statement.
“Our Filipinos are safe in the households and as long as they follow instructions from their employers, OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] will not be exposed to harm or accidental shootings between warring groups," Assad said.
The current fighting in Lebanon is reminiscent of the 15-year civil war that stretched from 1975 to 1990 where about 150,000 were killed while leaving parts of the city severely damaged.
In 2006, about 7,000 OFWs were evacuated during the Israel-Lebanon conflict where constant air raids and bombings ensued in the country's capital.
The Lebanese consul said that political factions in Beirut are trying to forge a dialogue between the Shiite and Sunni groups to prevent further violence and gun battles.
- Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV