Eleven overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrived in Manila from conflict-torn South Sudan on Christmas Day as the Philippine government officially activated its repatriation program there, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
Amid the mounting crisis in South Sudan, the group flew to the Philippines from Kenya, leaving 20 others. On the same week, 15 OFWs have already evacuated to Uganda, four to Khartoum in Sudan, and five to Dubai.
However, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Henandez said that around 31 OFWs in South Sudan are still waiting for repatriation.
“Our embassy in Nairobi continues to assist those who wish to leave South Sudan and efforts are underway to locate and contact as many Filipinos as possible,” he said, adding that all expenses incurred will be shouldered by the government.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on the other hand imposed a total ban on the processing and deployment of OFWs to South Sudan.
“The POEA Governing Board has approved Governing Board Resolution 14 Series of 2013, imposing a total ban on the processing and deployment of all overseas Filipino workers bound for South Sudan, whether new hires or returning workers,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
Violence has been escalating in South Sudan since last week after former Vice President Riek Machar staged an alleged coup attempt. While South Sudan President Salva Kiir offered open talks with Machar, the latter denied the coup attempt and accused Kiir of conducting a “violent purge.”
More than 500 people have died from the fighting, which sparked cries of outrage from humanitarian leaders and prompted the United Nations to send more troops and peacekeepers to the country.
With Report From Robertzon Ramirez