By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 8 August 2014:
The Philippine government has chartered a ship in an effort to evacuate more Filipinos out . . .[restrict]of Libya, even though many of its nationals seem intent on staying on in the country.
The M/S Bridge, able to carry 1,500 passengers, was sailing from Malta to Benghazi today, where it will pick up Filipino nationals, and then move on to Misrata to pick up more. From Misrata, the ship will make the 24-hour voyage back to Malta, where the evacuees will board chartered Philippine Airlines planes to return home. The cost of the chartered ship is €1.4 million.
Despite the Philippine government’s 2 August order for its nationals to quit Libya, only 800 of the 13,000 Filipinos working in the country have left.
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said : “They think they have a greater chance of surviving the war, rather than surviving the uncertainty of being without work here (in the Philippines).”
Not only do the Filipinos need their jobs in Libya; Libya’s health sector needs the Filipinos. In fact, 60 percent of the nation’s hospital staff—around 3,000 workers—comes from the Philippines. The exit of all Filipino health care workers would paralyse the system.
At this point, the Philippine government is saying that 800 of its citizens have left Libya, many of whom were compelled to evacuate by their companies. The Korean automaker, Hyundai, sent out 43 Filipino workers last week, while a handful of other companies evacuated around 20 employees each.
The Philippine government expects that the M/S Bridge will only need to make one trip, but is prepared to arrange for subsequent trips, should it be necessary, Jose said. As the number of flights coming and going from Libya continues to be limited, foreigners have been forced to exit either by land or by sea.
It was reported two days ago that China had evacuated some 75 percent of its 1,200 workers in Libya. Some traveled by land to the Tunisian border, while others sailed to Europe last week with the Greek evacuation. The Pakistan Foreign Office has also announced that it would assist its nearly 6,000 citizens to obtain Tunisian visas, making it possible for them to evacuate by land to Tunisia where they could board flights back to Pakistan. [/restrict]