Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario wants to impose a deadline for repatriating Filipinos in strife-torn Yemen because not setting one puts at risk their lives, as well as those of Philippine Embassy personnel there.
“I’d like to put a deadline frankly because precisely we are putting our people there at risk . . . but our policy is we leave no one behind, so they [Filipinos] feel they can wait forever and when they are ready to come home, we will be there for them,” he said during an interview on ANC’s “Headstart” on Wednesday.
The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has repeatedly made calls to the remaining Filipinos in Yemen to avail of its evacuation and repatriation.
It has evacuated and repatriated over 450 Filipinos while fewer than 300 remain in Yemen.
Del Rosario said there are basically three types of Filipinos living there: one, those who can be brought home; two, those who are waiting until the last minute; and three, those who do not want to come home.
Most of the Filipinos who no longer want to come home are married to Yemenis while some have settled and feel economically secure there.
But the problem are those who wait until the last minute before seeking the help of the government, among them a number of nurses who belatedly said they want to come home.
The Crisis Management Team (CMT), headed by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, cannot go to Yemen and get the nurses out because bombs are exploding all over the place, del Rosario said.
“So, I’m saying we’ll come and get you when we can come and get you. But because we have tried to get you before [and]you have lingered, taken your time, and now it may be too late . . . but we will come and get you anyway as soon as we feel it’s safe,” he added.
The DFA secretary continues to appeal to Filipinos, telling them that the situation in Yemen has become “very vulnerable and dangerous.”
At present, land routes are the only available avenues for evacuations because all international flights have been canceled.
All Filipinos who want to be evacuated and eventually repatriated to the Philippines must converge at Hodeidah for travel to Al Tuwal, the Yemen-Saudi border.
Filipino evacuees stay in Jizan before leaving for a flights bound for Manila.
Those wishing to leave Yemen can contact the CMT at the Movenpick Hotel Sana’a through phone numbers +967 73 0194 165 and +967 73 742 6292.
The team may also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crisis alert level 4 was raised in Yemen because of the volatile political security there.
Alert level 4 is raised where there is large-scale internal conflict or full-blown external attack.