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Manila 'not helping' trapped workers

Government claims it has rescued some nationals from ongoing bloody Gaddafi violence

Manila 'not helping' trapped workers
Exodus as migrant workers try to escape 'merciless' Gaddafi's violence

February 28, 2011

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Care organisations have called for the Philippine government to take action to help free Filipinos trapped in Libya as migrant workers continue to try to flee bloody violence and anti-government protests. Garry Martinez of NGO Migrante International said Filipino workers in Libyan work camps who want to leave the country are receiving no support from their government. "They do not know where to proceed for evacuation, who to contact or what to expect from Philippine authorities," Martinez said. He said that because of lack of information, some Filipinos have resorted to braving the dangerous streets to get to exit posts. Father Allan Arcebuche of Caritas in Tripoli said around 100 foreign workers had tried to escape to Algeria but were refused entry for lack of documents. Philippine authorities ordered the workers to return to Libya, but the priest said it would take another two hours on foot for the workers to return. Father Arcebuche also confirmed earlier reports that a still unidentified Filipino died when armed men attacked a construction site last week. The worker's remains is at Jalo General Hospital. But the Philippine government now estimates about 1,900 of the 23,000 Filipinos working in Libya have fled the country. According to a government spokesman, the new Filipino foreign minister, Albert del Rosario, personally led an evacuation of hundreds of Filipino workers out of Tripoli. The foreign affairs department on Sunday announced that at least 400 Filipinos managed to leave Libya during the weekend. Spokesman Eduardo Malaya said they were brought to the border in a convoy. Malaya said the Philippine airforce could also start flying Filipinos from Tripoli airport, which is open during the day, to bring them to Tunis, Malta, Crete or Alexandria in Egypt. He said negotiations continue to evacuate Filipinos in Libya, particularly those in Benghazi. He said they will look also into complaints of low food supplies at Philippine posts in neighbouring Tunisia, where Filipino evacuees were brought after crossing the border. PM13455.1643
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