MANILA: Only a fraction of about 13,000 Filipinos have expressed a desire to leave Libya so far despite frantic Philippine government efforts to evacuate them because they’re afraid of losing their jobs in the conflict-torn country, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Sunday.
Del Rosario said only 1,700 Filipinos have signed up to be repatriated from the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Misarata as well as the capital, Tripoli, after the Philippines called for the mandatory evacuations of its nationals from the North African nation.
The Philippines has chartered a ship to transport the Filipinos this week from Libya to Malta, where flights will be arranged to take them home.
About 160 Filipinos have escaped by land to Tunisia, including 50 workers who were briefly stranded when the border crossing was shut by authorities Friday night due to violence that erupted amid the rush to escape from Libya, del Rosario said.
“I’m not sure that we can even get 50 percent to come home,” he told the Associated Press after arriving in Manila from Tunisia, where he helped arranged the evacuations of Filipinos in Libya. “They’re so scared, but their concerns are their jobs.”
Filipino nurses are especially apprehensive about leaving because employers have enticed them to stay with additional pay and they are committed to their hospital work, del Rosario said.