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Top Filipino diplomat to oversee Libya evacuations

July 31, 2014

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ top diplomat said Thursday he was on his way to arrange the evacuation from Libya of thousands of Filipino workers, one of whom was beheaded and a nurse gang-raped amid the worsening turmoil.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he would fly to Tunisia’s Djerba Island near the Libyan border to help arrange the departure of about 13,000 Filipino workers and their dependents from the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Misarata and the capital, Tripoli. The Filipinos will be brought by chartered ships to Malta, where they could take flights to Manila.

If access to the Tripoli port proves to be difficult, the Filipinos will be moved by land to Tunisia, del Rosario said. He also led a dangerous mission to evacuate Filipinos when a civil war broke out in Libya in 2011.

“Our major challenge, as in 2011, is to convince our folks that they must leave Libya at the soonest time to avoid the perils of a highly exacerbating situation there,” del Rosario said.

A Filipino construction worker in Libya was beheaded two weeks ago and a nurse was abducted and gang-raped Wednesday, ratcheting concerns over the safety of Filipinos there.

The Philippines is among the world’s top labor exporters with about a tenth of its 100 million people working abroad to prop up their families and the country’s economy with the money they send home.

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