31 OFWs arrive from Syria

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Thirty one Filipino workers from strife-torn Syria arrived in Manila on Friday after availing of the Philippine government’s reinforced repatriation program there, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

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They were onboard Gulf Air flight GF 154 from Beirut to Manila. They were brought to the Lebanese capital on September 11 after crossing the Lebanon-Syria border.

Crossing over to Lebanon through Masna’a, which lies 62 kilometers from Beirut, is the only way Filipinos may be able to go home.

Their arrival will raise the number of Filipinos repatriated from Syria to 4,772. Of that number, 1,750 were repatriated through Lebanon.

Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesman, called on Filipinos in Syria to “get in touch with the embassy in Damascus or the honorary consul in Aleppo.”

Their relatives in the Philippines may also get in touch with the Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA).

The security situation in the country is further deteriorating after the United States government accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons against some 1,400 Syrians who died on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21.

Violence in the country has been rampant since March 2011 when rebel groups asked Assad to step down.

The Foreign Affairs department continues to ask some 3,000 Filipinos left in Syria “to avoid telecommunication facilities, defense establishments, military installations and the like as these places are possible targets of attacks.”

Since clashes began, the department has raised crisis alert level 4 there, which entails mandatory repatriation.

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