At least three Filipinos, through their employers and the Saudi Arabian government, were evacuated from conflict-torn Sudan, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega of the Migrant Workers Concerns said these three Filipinos were employees of Saudia Airlines which was initially stranded in Sudan where hostilities between the country’s two military forces, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, are ongoing.
“Saudia Airlines was stranded in Khartoum (Sudan’s capital), and they were brought by bus by their employers to Port Sudan where they were fetched by a military vessel provided by the Saudi Arabian government. From there, they will be taken to Jeddah where our team will meet them,” De Vega said during the public briefing.
“We thank the Saudi Arabia government, and we are also appealing to them that for our future repatriation, maybe we can board their military vessel... and it looks like they are open to the idea,” de Vega added.
De Vega had said that the evacuation of Filipinos can only be done via land travel since airports in Khartoum are not functioning due to the warring military forces of Sudan.
He added that the evacuation of Filipinos is expected to begin within the day. It will start with them boarding a bus rented by the Philippine government in Khartoum and traveling to the south of Egypt for 15 hours.
From the south of Egypt, De Vega said the Filipinos will be brought to Aswan International Airport where they will board their flight to Cairo, Egypt’s capital. From Cairo, the Filipinos will be repatriated back to the Philippines.
“I will be frank. Those who want to go home and are still stuck there are not happy, and there’s even one who was abandoned by the employer na para siyang aso o pusa (as if the person was a stray animal.),” de Vega said.
De Vega, however, assured the Filipinos that the Philippine government will shoulder their evacuation and repatriation cost.
“Initially, we have 300 Filipinos in Sudan [in our registry]. Since we called on them to reach out to the embassy so we can help them, it went up to 300, then now, those registered have already increased to 696,” de Vega said.
“There are few who are household workers, but most of the Filipinos here have high paying jobs such as teachers, engineers. They are paid well because of the dangers here,” de Vega added.
De Vega said there are at least 300 of the 696 Filipinos who sought assistance so they could go back to the Philippines as soon as possible, and that 156 of them have complete documents and could be evacuated anytime.
“It will take some time due to the limited supply of buses [for rental]. But we assure them that in one to two weeks, you will be repatriated and will be provided assistance,” de Vega said.
Filipinos were among the more than 150 civilians rescued from battle-scarred Sudan who arrived Saturday in Jeddah according to the Saudi foreign ministry.
On Sunday, the Saudi foreign ministry announced the "safe arrival" of 91 Saudi citizens and around 66 nationals from 12 other countries, including the Philippines, with "diplomats and international officials."
It was the first evacuation of civilians from Sudan since violence erupted there a week ago.
The DFA said there are no Filipino casualties in Sudan so far, and the person who was previously reportedly injured is already in a better condition.
The violence in Sudan erupted between the forces of the two generals who seized power in a 2021 coup: the army chief and his deputy, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. —VAL, GMA Integrated News