More than 5,000 Filipinos are waiting to flee the fighting in Syria but bureaucratic requirements are delaying their return, a foreign department official said on Monday.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said a total of 5,228 Filipinos have signed up at the Philippine Embassy in Damascus for repatriation, the largest number recorded since the outbreak of fighting.
Seguis, who is acting as a special envoy to help speed the repatriation of the Filipinos, said foreign workers leaving Syria are still required to complete documentary requirements and obtain an exit visa before they can go.
Some 1,493 Filipinos are currently having their papers processed and could return home “in a few weeks,” he said.
The rest are still hoping the fighting will die down but Seguis warned this was unlikely. “It’s going to be a long, drawn-out internal conflict among the Syrian people,” he told reporters.
He called on the more than 7,000 Filipinos still in Syria to evacuate while air and land routes out of that country are still open.
Seguis added that many of the Filipinos are based in the critical areas of Damascus, Homs, Daraa, Aleppo, and Idlib. (gulf today) the