MANILA, Aug 20 (Mabuhay) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday reminded remaining Filipinos in Afghanistan to prepare to leave at moment’s notice after two attempts to land a repatriation flight failed on Wednesday night.

Out of the 90 Filipinos who remain in the south-central Asian nation, at least 79 were confirmed to have asked for repatriation.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) continues to work to repatriate remaining Filipinos in Afghanistan, exhausting all avenues to ensure their safety and eventual evacuation,” the DFA said in a statement.

“Filipinos still remaining in Afghanistan are further advised to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice, and to be able to travel with minimal luggage,” it added.

Two attempts were made to evacuate the distressed Filipinos via New Delhi and Islamabad, but both were “unsuccessful” after the cancellation of all commercial flights in the capital Kabul, the agency said.

The DFA added that access to and even within the airport is “very difficult” and if able to check-in, there is still no assurance that a flight would be able to leave.

But some Filipinos have been able to leave with the help of foreign employers, and on Thursday, at least seven Filipinos were able to fly to Qatar and another five to the United Kingdom.

“There are reports of other Filipinos who have left Kabul which our embassies are verifying. In all cases, the DFA will assist in their return to the Philippines,” the DFA said.

Aid assured

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) assured that repatriated Filipino workers from Afghanistan will receive financial and other assistance from the government.

In a Laging Handa briefing, OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said they initially informed the 32 Filipinos who arrived this week from the conflict-hit country about the assistance from the government upon the order of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

“Secretary Bello ordered to help and assist all returning OFWs from Afghanistan. We informed them of their benefits. That will revolve around financial, livelihood, scholarship assistance, DOLE-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong Program (AKAP), OFW educational assistance, and livelihood. For individuals, PHP20,000 if active OWWA member. PHP10,000 if inactive OWWA member, and PHP100,000 to PHP1 million if they will avail of group livelihood, if these OFWs come together to do business,” he added.

Under AKAP, beneficiaries are given a one-time cash aid of PHP10,000.

“We are closely coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs. Secretary Bello ordered us to partner with DFA because we don’t have a Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Afghanistan,” he said. (MNS)

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