Leave Lebanon now, OFWs told

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Sunday appealed to overseas Filipino workers in Lebanon to “seriously consider” the voluntary repatriation program of the government as the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas spilled over into neighboring countries.

Over the weekend, the exchange of artillery fire between Israel and the Hezbollah of Lebanon worsened, sparking fear of a repeat of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. In Syria, two airports being used by Iran to supply Hezbollah with war materiel were also hit by airstrikes, purportedly by Israel.

In an interview with DAILY TRIBUNE, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Eduardo de Vega said OFWs in Lebanon should decide as early as possible due to the rising tension between Israel and the Islamist group Hezbollah based in Lebanon.

According to an Agence France-Presse tally, at least 27 people have been killed in southern Lebanon. Most have been combatants, but at least four civilians, including a Reuters journalist, have also been killed.



“We wish to advise Filipinos in Lebanon to seriously consider the voluntary repatriation program being undertaken by the Philippine Embassy in Beirut,” De Vega said. “It is best to leave as early as possible while tensions are rising and it is still possible to book commercial flights to Manila.”

He continued: “You are our heroes, but there are times when discretion is the better part of valor, and we wish to see you safe.”

According to the DFA, there are an estimated 17,500 Filipinos in Lebanon, 67 of them reside on the southern border of Lebanon.

In a separate advisory, the Philippine Embassy in Lebanon called on Filipinos, particularly those on the southern border of Lebanon, to accept the voluntary repatriation.

Interested Filipinos must fill out the online repatriation form at https://tinyurl.com/2023Repatriation. They may also contact the Migrant Workers Office hotline at +96179110729 or the ATN hotline at +96170858086.

Since the surprise attack of the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic extremist Hamas in Israel on 7 October, which left 1,400 Israelis dead, including four Filipinos, Israel and Lebanon also caught themselves in military clashes.

Casualties were reported along the Israel-Lebanon border Saturday as the Israeli army traded fire with the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah amid fears of a new front opening as Israel battles Hamas.

Israel’s army said Hezbollah anti-tank fire towards the village of Baram had wounded three of its soldiers. The army said it hit a Hezbollah position Saturday evening, targeting the border town of Shlomi with anti-tank missiles.

Israel already ordered the evacuation of Kiryat Shmona, a border town home to some 25,000 people, as the area has come under fire from Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions.

Hezbollah said it targeted several Israeli positions along the border on Saturday, including in the contested Shebaa Farms area.

On Sunday, Israeli strikes put out of service war-torn Syria’s two main airports, state media reported, citing a military source, with the transport ministry saying flights were re-routed to Latakia.


Syria attacked

While Israeli strikes have repeatedly caused the grounding of flights at the government-controlled airports in the capital, Damascus, and the northern city of Aleppo, it is the second time simultaneous strikes have hit the facilities since this month’s conflict between Israel and Hamas began.

On 12 October, simultaneous strikes knocked both Damascus and Aleppo airports out of service, Syria said. Last weekend, Israeli strikes targeted Aleppo airport, wounding five people, a war monitor reported, also putting it out of service, according to the authorities.

During more than a decade of war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbor, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces, Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, and Syrian army positions.

with AFP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *