PH embassy in Libya raises alert level

MANILA—The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli has raised its alert level as violence continues to engulf the north African nation.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos in a televised press briefing Tuesday said Filipinos who would like to get out of Libya would be repatriated.

Conejos advised them to call the embassy or their community coordinators as he strongly advised them to remain indoors.

Also told against venturing outdoors are Filipinos in the Libyan city of Benghazi, where troops have launched a brutal crackdown on protesters, and in Al-Baida and other areas hit by demonstrations demanding for an end to the four decades of rule by Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

On Tuesday the embassy raised the alert level to 3, where voluntary repatriation will take place.

There are around 30,000 Filipinos in Libya—15,000 in Tripoli, 10,000 in Benghazi and Al-Baida areas and 5,000 scattered in other parts of the country. Majority of them are professionals, skilled and semi-skilled workers.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has dispatched a quick response team from its Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) to Libya to augment the embassy staff.

Conejos said the DFA has allocated US$150,000 for the repatriation of Filipinos and P25 million from the Department of Labor and Employment.

He said the DFA has also asked the International Organization for Migration for assistance in the repatriation of Filipinos.

The DFA activated a 24-hour hotline number for families of Filipinos based in Libya. The hotline number is 834-4580.

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