Senator Win Gatchalian urged distressed Filipinos in Sudan to get in touch with the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, Egypt for their immediate repatriation amid heightened hostilities in the African nation.
Gatchalian also said that Filipinos based in the Philippines who have immediate relatives and loved ones in Sudan should convince their respective family members in the war-torn country to seek assistance from the embassy. The DFA earlier said that there are around 400 Filipinos recorded in Sudan.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Migrant Workers should exert all efforts in locating Filipinos in Sudan and ensure their safety and wellbeing as they await the Philippine government in bringing them home,” Gatchalian said.
The senator made the call following the issuance of an advisory by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for Filipinos in Sudan to establish contact with the Philippine Embassy in Cairo so that they can be included in the country’s repatriation efforts.
While all airports in Sudan have remained closed, one option is through land travel from Khartoum to Cairo and then fly from Cairo to Manila. Gatchalian estimated that repatriating 400 Filipinos would cost the government P34 million to P46 million. A land travel to Cairo also entails an additional budgetary cost of about P23 million for a 2-day subsistence allowance for the repatriates, according to Gatchalian.
Under the 2023 General Appropriations Act, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has a budget allocation of P1.259 billion for the “protection and promotion of welfare of overseas Filipinos.” On the other hand, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an attached agency of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), has a repatriation budget which is sourced from employers’ contributions. As of end-2021, the value of the OWWA fund was at P1.40 billion.
According to news updates, more than 500 Filipinos in Sudan have sent messages to embassy officials seeking government’s help for their repatriation and that Filipinos living in the area could sum up to 700, mostly undocumented.