Philippines to continue repatriations from Libya

Philippines to continue repatriations from Libya
Filipino workers arrive in Manila on Aug 2 after leaving strife-torn Libya.

MANILA - The Philippines will work to repatriate thousands more of its nationals from Libya after more than 700 were ferried to safety on a chartered ship, the presidential palace said Sunday.

President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma said "the commitment of the government is to continue to work for the rescue of all the Filipinos in dangerous situations in other countries".

The Philippines ordered a "mandatory evacuation" of Libya in July in the face of growing violence between rival militia groups.

The beheading of a Filipino construction worker and gang-rape of a Filipina nurse in Tripoli last month further highlighted the danger.

Coloma said a total of 2,727 Filipinos have returned from Libya after 766 Filipinos were evacuated on a chartered ship and then flown home over the weekend.

However officials have said that about 10,000 Filipinos still remain despite government warnings it may not be able to send another rescue ship.

Foreign Department spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement that "repatriation is a continuing thing. We bring back any Filipino who desires to be evacuated." He did not say how others would be evacuated but officials have previously said the land route to Tunisia is still open.

Despite the warnings, many Filipino workers have declined to leave, fearing they may not be able to find such good jobs at home.

Many of them are medical workers, who make up the backbone of Libya's hospital staff and are being offered financial incentives to stay.

About 10 million Filipinos work in a variety of jobs all over the world for salaries much higher than they could earn at home.

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