By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA – Seven more buses carrying around 300 Filipinos are streaming out of Sudan for Egypt just as fighting punctures a 72-hour cease-fire between warring Sudanese forces.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said a total of 80 Filipinos have already left the North African state, which includes the first batch of 50 evacuees.
“As of Wednesday morning Sudan time, at least seven more buses are leaving for Egypt with 300 repatriates minimum,” DFA Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said.
Giving assurance to Filipinos already at the border, the official said the Philippine Embassy in Egypt is doing its best to help them cross through.
The Philippine Embassy in Egypt has also made representations with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the temporary entry into Egypt of Filipino nationals.
“The problem is the long processing at Egyptian border, taking over a day. Our Embassy is sending teams to try to fix it, including for those three,” De Vega said.
The embassy is eyeing the deployment of assistance-to-nationals teams in two locations in Wadi Halfa and Port Sudan to provide further consular assistance to evacuating Filipinos.
Efforts are also continuous to secure more buses for evacuation.
“The Embassy continues to monitor developments in Sudan; continues to coordinate the evacuation and repatriation of Filipinos and is in communication with Filipinos to ensure their safety and well-being,” DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said in a separate statement.
France aids Filipinos
Also on Wednesday, the French Embassy in Manila said France-led repatriation operations in Sudan were able to evacuate some Filipinos out of the country.
No figures have been provided as of yet but the embassy said France continues to stand “in solidarity on the ground by answering the call of many European and allied partners who reported their nationals in Sudan”.
There are at least 740 Filipino nationals registered in Sudan, 350 of whom wanted to return to the Philippines.
The DFA said a majority of the 740 are professionals, employees in farms or agricultural companies, students and household service workers.
No Filipino fatality has been reported since the armed clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces, loyal to the head of the military government, and the Rapid Support Forces began on April 15 but one was wounded in the hand by a stray bullet.
Daza said the victim was a male and since received treatment. (PNA)