By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

BACK HOME. Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo shakes hands with an overseas Filipino worker who came home from Sudan in this undated photo. Over 700 Filipinos have fled the war-torn African nation since conflict broke out last month. (Photo courtesy of DFA)

MANILA – At least 730 Filipinos have fled the Sudanese capital Khartoum as the ongoing conflict there entered its 25th day, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

Of this number, some 474 were safely repatriated to the Philippines, 95 of whom arrived in Manila on Tuesday night.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Paul Cortes said more batches are scheduled to arrive in Manila throughout the week.

“Yong ibang batch are in Cairo and ‘yong iba naman are on their way to Port Sudan sa may Red Sea kung saan sasakay sila sa barko na bigay ng gobyerno ng Saudi Arabia (The other batches are still in Cairo while the others are on their way to the Port of Sudan where they will be boarding a ship provided by the government of Saudi Arabia),” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Cortes said the DFA would facilitate their repatriation once the ship ferries them to Jeddah.

The number of registered Filipinos in Sudan rose to 864 since armed clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces broke out in the capital on April 15.

Cortes said around 50 to 60 Filipinos remain in the North African state but some of them are already indicating intent to evacuate.

“Yong iba kasi ay kasama ‘yong asawa nila, ‘yong iba naman ay kasama ‘yoong employer nila (Some of them are with their spouses while the others are with their employers),” he said.

“Ang gagawin natin ay kakausapin natin ‘yong employer nila para pakawalan sila, siguro natatakot ‘yong employer na kapag pinakawalan ay baka kung anong mangyari sa kanila (What we will do is we’ll talk to their employers to let them leave),” he added.

The battle between the two warring Sudanese forces continues to rage on as talks on a humanitarian truce in Jeddah yield “no major progress”.

Latest data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showed that over 500 people were killed while some 4,599 have been injured since the clashes started. (PNA)