First Filipinos from Sudan have returned, with hundreds more soon to follow
First Filipinos from Sudan have returned, with hundreds more soon to follow

Manila: Authorities anticipate the arrival of a further group of 340 people in the coming days after the first batch of 17 Filipino refugees from Sudan arrived in Manila on Saturday.

On Monday, when rival Sudanese factions — the army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces — announced a ceasefire allowing foreign nations to relocate their citizens, the first Filipinos left the capital Khartoum.

Major airports turning into battlegrounds have complicated the evacuation efforts, which have also been hurried because the cease-fire is set to expire early next week.

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The Philippine mission in Cairo, which has jurisdiction over Filipinos in Sudan, is assisting nearly 400 people who have crossed the border into Egypt over the past three days, according to Philippine authorities, who claim they have so far been able to get 610 nationals to safety.

Eight employees of the hospitality industry who boarded a military evacuation flight run by Greek authorities and were received by the Philippine embassy in Athens on Friday made up the first group of evacuees to arrive in Manila, according to a statement from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

The other nine Filipinos left Khartoum for Port Sudan, where the Royal Saudi Air Force evacuated them to Jeddah and the Philippine consulate general sent them back home.

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo greeted the evacuees at the airport in Manila and said, "The Philippine government is working round-the-clock to assist our countrymen who have left Sudan." "Our DFA offices and diplomatic missions are committed to returning our citizens as soon as possible in a safe manner."

"The government is set to repatriate some 340 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from conflict-torn Sudan in the coming days," according to a statement from the Philippine Presidential Palace, Malacanang.

It cited Department of Migrant Workers chief Susan Ople, who is currently in Egypt coordinating evacuation efforts. The required paperwork is being processed by Philippine officials in preparation for the Filipinos' immediate departure from the nation of northeastern Africa.

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According to a statement from the palace, "Ople informed President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. that a DMW team and a contingent from the Philippine embassy in Cairo are now providing care to the Filipinos seeking to return home after being caught in clashes between two warring factions in Sudan." Due to the influx of evacuees, there have been delays in processing at the Egyptian border.

Data from the DFA indicates that there are currently at least 45 more Filipinos in Sudan waiting to be evacuated.

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