PHL students, families due from Cairo Sunday; Binay shows concern

February 6, 2011 11:24 am 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Feb. 5 — Students of Al Azhar University and their families, nurses from Dar Al Faoud Hospital and household service workers compose the initial group of Filipinos expected in Manila on Sunday in a voluntary repatriation program from Egypt due to the current political tensions in the capital city of Cairo.

The charge d’Affaires of the Philippine embassy in Cairo, Eduardo Pablo Maglaya, also reported that food and water supply have begun to normalize in the city, and banks have reopened, allowing withdrawals via automated teller machines.

The embassy emphasized that repatriation is voluntary for those who feel queasy about their safety, as it assessed “there is no need for mandatory evacuation.”

The students' group left Cairo on Saturday, as arranged by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through the embassy, with the cooperation of Filipino communities around the capital.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has insisted on clinging to his post and pledged not to resign as demanded by Egyptian protesters in the past days.

Scores of Egyptians have reportedly died in the aftermath of the continuing protests that are far from Filipino communities — which had suffered no casualties.

The DFA gave the varying number of repatriates as between 26 and 27 persons, and did not provide more details about the returnees.

The mostly women and minor children group is scheduled to depart Cairo via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates aboard an Emirates Airlines flight at 6:55 p.m. (Cairo time), which is due to touch down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 4:20 p.m. on Sunday (Manila time).

The United Nations-linked International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Cairo helped the embassy with flight arrangements, including those for the second batch of about 20 which departs early next week.

The embassy reported “that most community members consider themselves relatively safe in their residences and neighborhoods, and are hopeful that the current political impasse will be resolved soon.”

In a related development, as Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said in Washington, where he is currently visiting, that the safety of Filipino workers should be ensured.

Binay also asked that the United Nations issue “a strong statement calling for the peaceful resolution of the conflict."

”However, we must increase the level of vigilance and preparedness as the political conflict continues to unfold. We are all very much concerned over the safety of Filipinos still in Egypt," Binay said.

He asked that the international community “take a more pro-active stance, particularly as lives of journalists and innocent civilians” continue to be endangered. (PNA)

DCT/GJB

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