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War 'better than nothing', say migrants

Migrants prefer to risk their lives in Libya rather than face despair at home

War 'better than nothing', say migrants
Filipinos in Manila call for the repatriation of relatives in Libya. (photo courtesy of Bulatlat) reporter, Manila

March 24, 2011

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Filipinos who decided to remain in Libya say they would rather risk civil war and airstrikes than face unemployment and "hopelessness" back home. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario relayed the migrant workers’ sentiments in a text message to president Benigno Aquino who read it out to reporters. Del Rosario told the president that a group of migrants who opted to stay in Libya went to the Philippine embassy "to express thanks to the Aquino government for showing concern for them by urging their repatriation, but risking death was ... preferable to the prospect of no employment and economic hopelessness." Aquino said he was saddened by their decision. "It is saddening to think that they only have hope in a place where there is serious strife rather than here in our own country where it is peaceful," he said. "We cannot fault them for thinking that way, since that is their only means of providing for their families," he said. The government is exerting all efforts to provide jobs and livelihood opportunities for displaced workers, the president added. Father Allan Arcebuche, a Filipino priest in Tripoli, said out of almost 1,000 Filipinos working near his parish only four decided to go home to the Philippines. He said about 600 migrants work at the Tripoli Medical Center while another 150 work at a nearby naval station. Fr. Arcebuche said the movements of foreign nationals are being closely monitored, which is hindering his work with the remaining migrants in the city. Since the start of the UN-sanctioned air strikes Tripoli’s residents are only allowed out from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the priest said, adding that food supplies in stores are getting scarce. PM13745.1646
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