DFA assures more than 1,000 OFWs to be evacuated from Libya within the week despite ship delay

MANILA, Aug. 11 (PNA) –- Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Monday assured that more than 1,000 Filipinos will be evacuated from conflict-stricken Libya within the week despite the delay in the arrival of a Philippine chartered ship.

Del Rosario cited “bunkering problem” as the reason for the vessel’s failure to show up in Libya last weekend where it was scheduled to pick up 490 Filipinos in Benghazi and 610 in Misrata.

“It was a re-fuelling problem. But for sure, it will happen,” he told reporters in a chance interview.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the vessel, which first sailed from Italy then to Malta before heading to Libya, is expected at the port in Benghazi on Aug. 13 and in Misrata on Aug. 14.

It is scheduled to arrive in Malta to drop off the Filipino evacuees on Aug. 15, Jose said. Chartered planes provided by Philippine Airlines will fly them directly to the Philippines from Malta.

“I think once they are on that boat, they’re home,” Del Rosario said.

Jose said another group of 588 Filipinos in Tripoli are waiting for their turn to leave Libya via land travel to the border of Tunisia. They will cross the border in batches, he explained.

The border of Egypt has also re-opened, Del Rosario said, adding this will give the Philippine government another exit option for Filipinos fleeing the raging violence in Libya.

“Now that border is open to us, we have more options now,” Del Rosario said. (PNA)