Envoy says Filipinos in Egypt refuse to leave

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Egypt’s Ambassador to Manila Mahmoud Mostafa Ahmed said on Thursday that no Filipino will leave Egypt despite the Philippine government’s call for mandatory repatriation.

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In a press briefing at the Egyptian Embassy in Makati City, Ahmed told reporters that Filipinos are satisfied working in Egypt, where the supposed intense violence, in his words, was a “one-sided view” by Western countries that criticized Cairo’s recent dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s camps.

“You have to know this, no Filipino will leave Egypt. They are happy there. They are not going to leave. Egypt is better than other Arab countries [when it comes to foreign workers]. We are very sensitive about foreigners,” he said.

“If they [foreigners]seek help from the police, we come rushing to assist or help them,” Ahmed added.

The envoy said he does not agree with the decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to raise alert level 4 in the country, but maintained that he “understands” and “respects” the fundamental mission of the government to protect its citizens from danger.

So far, five Filipinos have availed of the repatriation program. Fifteen more are scheduled to arrive on August 31 while nine will be repatriated on September 1.

“We respect what the Philippines issued despite the fact that we think not many Filipinos want to go back. They [Filipinos] love to live there,” the envoy said.

Ahmed said aside from the Philippines, only Thailand has ordered the repatriation of their people from Egypt.

He added that even the United States, which has criticized the bloodshed in the dispersal of the alleged terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood, did not ask its citizens to come home. “They only issued travel advisories.”

The mid-August dispersal of the Brotherhood who are supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi, the first democratically elected leader of the Arab nation, pushed interim President Hazem Beblawi to declare a month-long state of emergency.

The violence in Egypt forced the DFA to raise alert level 3 on August 15 and then to level 4 five days after. DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario also visited Cairo two times this month to assess the situation there.

Ahmed said most of the 6,000 Filipinos in Egypt are working in the household and factory sectors.

While he doesn’t believe in mandatory repatriation, Ahmed assured the Philippines that Egypt’s interim government will do everything to protect Filipinos working and residing in Egypt.

He added that exit routes in the country are all “working normally,” and those who wish to be repatriated won’t have a hard time leaving.

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