The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is calling on the 52 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remaining in South Sudan to take advantage of the Philippine government’s repatriation program and leave the strife-torn country.
Thirty Filipinos have been repatriated and 57 others were evacuated to neighboring countries, including Dubai, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said on Thursday.
Of the OFWs still in South Sudan, 48 are in the capital Juba while four are in Paloch, an hour away by plane.
The embassy in Kenya has jurisdiction over Philippine affairs in South Sudan, which gained its independence from Sudan in mid-2012.
“Our embassy continues to monitor the security situation in South Sudan and alert level 3 is still in effect over that country,” Hernandez said.
Level 3 means the Philippine government will shoulder the repatriation costs of Filipinos who want to leave if their employers or recruitment agencies won’t be able to.
The remaining Filipinos were urged to coordinate with the Philippine embassy in Kenya and the Rapid Response Team (RRT) that was sent there.
Hernandez said the team met with “a number” of Filipinos in Juba and their employers on December 30.
South Sudan has declared a state of emergency following intensified ethnic fighting that has killed more than 1,000.
The fighting continues even as rival camps of President Salva Kiir and former deputy Riek Machar begin talks in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
The conflict started in mid-December when Riik accused Machar of attempting a coup.
After South Sudan declared independence, the Philippines recognized it as a sovereign state. The two nations established formal diplomatic relations in March last year.
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON