Twenty-five more Filipinos are set to arrive home from Syria after availing of the government's repatriation program, bringing the number of Filipinos repatriated from the troubled nation to 5,722 since 2011.
In a news release Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the latest batch is set to arrive in Manila on Wednesday, September 16, at 4:35 p.m. via flight EK-332.
The DFA said the 25 previously worked and resided in Aleppo and Damascus before deciding to avail of the Mandatory Repatriation Program (MRP) and sought shelter at the Philippine Embassy in Damascus’ halfway quarters.
The International Organization for Migration in Damascus shouldered the airfare of the 25 OFWs, the DFA said.
The repatriates, along with the officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Damascus, traveled by land on July 7 from Damascus to Lebanon’s Masna’a border where they were met and assisted by officers and staff from the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.
"The OFWs received medical check-up and pre-departure briefing prior to their travel to Manila," the DFA said.
Syria is in a state of civil war, with the al-Assad regime continuing to step up offensives against rebels despite an array of sanctions and condemnations by the United Nations, the United States, and its Western and Middle East allies.
A total 5,697 Filipinos have been repatriated from Syria since the unrest started in March 2011, as the violent uprising against the Al-Assad government escalated. Of this figure, 2,650 were repatriated through Lebanon, through the cooperation of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.
The DFA, meanwhile, said Alert Level 4 is still in place in Syria.
"Philippine Embassy in Damascus spares no effort in convincing Filipinos to avail of this repatriation program," it said. "The Embassy invites the next-of-kin of OFWs still in Syria to get in touch with the Embassy."
The embassy, the DFA said, could be contacted through mobile phone numbers 00963-11-613-2626; 00963-84-815-5557; 00963-93-495-7926, and email firstname.lastname@example.org
"The next-of-kin of Filipinos still in Syria are also encouraged to provide information of their family member’s whereabouts or last known contact details in Syria so that immediate assistance can be extended to them," the DFA said.
It added the Philippine Embassy in Damascus is in constant coordination with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates for the issuance of exit visas for OFWs who are currently sheltered at the halfway quarters. —KBK, GMA News