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First batch of 7 Filipinos in Libya safely arrive in Tunisia

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By Roy Mabasa

Seven of the 20 Filipinos who availed of the Philippine government’s repatriation program in Libya have safely exited to Tunisia, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.

The convoy of the head of Libya's UN-backed unity government, Fayez al-Sarraj, is seen moving after meeting with military and security commanders of the government forces who supervised recapture of the checkpoint 27 in Janzour, between Tripoli and the coastal town of Zawiya on April 5, 2019, hours after Haftar's forces were pushed back from the key spot, less than 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the capital. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The convoy of the head of Libya’s UN-backed unity government, Fayez al-Sarraj, is seen moving after meeting with military and security commanders of the government forces who supervised recapture of the checkpoint 27 in Janzour, between Tripoli and the coastal town of Zawiya on April 5, 2019, hours after Haftar’s forces were pushed back from the key spot, less than 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the capital. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a statement, the DFA said it started evacuating Filipinos from Tripoli almost two weeks after intense fighting broke out in the capital.

The remaining 13 Filipinos are expected to be evacuated to Tunisia in the next few days.

Augmentation teams led by Executive Director Enrico Fos and Director Iric Arribas of the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs are currently in Tunis to facilitate the process of repatriation.

As in the past, the Philippine government is covering the repatriation expense of four students from an Islamic school in Tripoli, as well as the three employees of the Ali Omar Ashkar Hospital outside the Libyan capital.

Of the estimated 1,000 Filipinos in the Libyan capital, only 20 have so far requested repatriation.

On Tuesday, a Filipino national was slightly injured in the forehead when a rocket exploded in a residential area in Tripoli.

Reports said Filipino national Rolando Torres was hit in the forehead by a splinter of window glass shattered by a rocket that exploded some 300 meters from where he was staying.

After the incident, Torres reportedly agreed to be repatriated.

In view of the heightening crisis in the northern African country, neighboring Tunisia has raised a maximum alert at its border with Libya to avert possible infiltration of terrorists with fake passports.

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