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Sun 12 Jan 2020 03:01 PM

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Philippines starts evacuation of workers from Iraq

First 14 have been flown home, with this number set to increase

Philippines starts evacuation of workers from Iraq

Last week, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the country’s armed forced to put their air and naval operations on standby in the event Filipino workers in the Middle East need to be evacuated from the region.

The Philippines has started the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers from Iraq and will be monitoring the rest of the region, describing it as “unstable” country since the escalation of tensions following the US killing of a prominent Iranian military commander in Baghdad.

On Friday, January 3, the US conducted a strike against a vehicle convoy in Baghdad and the Pentagon confirmed the death of Qasem Soleimani, Commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force and Abu Mehdi Muhandis.

Last week, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the country’s armed forced to put their air and naval operations on standby in the event Filipino workers in the Middle East need to be evacuated from the region.

"The situation in the area is still unstable and our contingencies for massive repatriation are still in place," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on media statement carried by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Lorenzana said Filipino government officials were now in Qatar to review the situation. The PNA report said the first batch of Filipino workers had been evacuated from the region, with 14 flying from Baghdad to Doha and on to Manila on Sunday.

"This number may increase, however, as the embassy continues to call on other OFWs who wish to come home," Lorenzana said.

The defence secretary also said the security risk for Kuwait had been increased, but did not elaborate why.

"We are closely monitoring Kuwait which just raised its security level to maximum on Jan. 9, 2020," he said.