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Sunday, December 10, 2023

DFA to 17,000 Filipinos in Lebanon: Consider going home now

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THE Department of Foreign Affairs has urged the 17,500 Filipinos in Lebanon to consider leaving their employers and go home as soon as possible as tension in Israel and Gaza Strip may spill over to Lebanon.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said the contingency level for Lebanon has been raised from Alert 2 to Alert 3, which calls for voluntary repatriation.

There are 17,537 registered Filipinos in Lebanon, according to the DFA. Most of them are domestic workers.

Since Israel rained Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with missiles after the October 7 attacks, Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah also attacked northern Israel. Israel responded by shelling border areas in south Lebanon.

The rocket, missile and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah have killed at least 22 people in Lebanon, including four civilians.

De Vega said it might be more prudent for the Filipinos to repatriate now while the international airport in Beirut is still open, rather than wait for the conflict to turn into another full-blown war just like what happened in 2006.

In 2006, Israel Defense Forces bombarded Lebanon after Hezbollah militants attacked its border. One Filipino maid died and three others were injured trying to flee from the war.

Southern Lebanon

The Philippine Embassy in Lebanon had earlier asked Filipinos working in southern Israel to evacuate. Many Filipinos have heeded the call and have relocated to the capital Beirut.

However, around 44 Filipinos from towns of Nabatiye and Tyre were against evacuating, Philippine Ambassador Raymund Balatbat said. Two of these 44 Filipinos are children.

The DFA estimates there are 3,000 Filipinos in southern Lebanon.

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