Govt starts evacuating Filipinos in Afghanistan


THE Philippines joined the appeal of United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to armed groups in Afghanistan to stop human rights abuses as the government started evacuating Filipinos hours after the Taliban swept into power.

“Conflict in Afghanistan is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee amid reports of serious human rights violations. All abuses must stop,” Guterres said on Twitter.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. reacted to Guterres’ appeal and tweeted, “Philippines joins your appeal.”

“We’re already out there. Islamabad PE (Philippine Embassy) handles Kabul. When the last Filipino is out; we’re shutting down that aspect as well. Now the job is to prevent Filipino trafficking to that place. I don’t think we had any under the Taliban,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has started evacuating Filipinos in Afghanistan amid worsening security situation there.

There are 130 Filipinos in Afghanistan, which is now under the control of Taliban fighters as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled to Tajikistan to avoid bloodshed.

On Sunday night, 32 Filipinos were evacuated and are now in Doha waiting for flight home.

Most Filipino professionals work for various international companies in Afghanistan while some are staff members of a UN agency in Kabul.

In a statement on Monday, the DFA assured the public it has made some “arrangements for the repatriation of Filipinos still left in Kabul, Afghanistan.”

The DFA’s foreign service posts in the region were “exploring all avenues of cooperation and are closely coordinating with governments and international partners to guarantee their immediate and safe passage.”

The DFA called on all Filipinos in Afghanistan to join the repatriation effort and to immediately contact the PE in Pakistan, which has jurisdiction over Afghanistan.

Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino on Monday urged the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment to expedite the repatriation of Filipinos in Afghanistan.

“As the humanitarian, political and security crisis in Afghanistan continues to worsen, the need to immediately repatriate the remaining Filipinos in Afghanistan becomes even more urgent as each day passes,” said Tolentino.

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