By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, Reporter

MORE than a hundred Filipinos refused to come home from Ukraine after the Philippines imposed mandatory evacuation amid Russia’s devastating invasion, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Sixty-three migrant Filipino workers from the Eastern European nation have returned, while 136 were awaiting repatriation, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola told an online news briefing on Wednesday. “We are happy that 199 Filipinos are out of harm’s way.”

Philippine officials were pleading with the remaining Filipinos in Ukraine to come home, she said. Most of them were staying in Kyiv and Lviv. Those with Ukrainian husbands found it difficult to leave with their kids, while domestic helpers chose to stay with their employers.

The United Nations on Wednesday said about two million people have already left Ukraine since Russia invaded it on Feb. 24. As many as four million may leave the country, or a tenth of its 44 million population.

Russia has launched a devastating attack by air, land, and sea on Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin denied for months he would invade his neighbor, but then tore up a peace deal and sent forces across borders in Ukraine’s north, east and south.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration was checking how many sea-based migrant Filipinos have been stranded in their vessels, Ms. Arriola said. Most seafarers were aboard merchant ships in the Black Sea.

Many of them could not leave the ships because of the heavy fighting, she said, adding that they had been advised to lay low and take cover while waiting for the storm to calm.

A missile struck the MV Banglar Samriddhi on Wednesday afternoon, killing one crew member and leaving several others with serious burns, according to the Wall Street Journal. It was the fifth merchant ship to be hit by artillery off Ukraine’s coast since the Russian invasion.

The fighting in the Black Sea has led to broad consequences for international transport and global supply chains, the newspaper said. Dozens of cargo ships were stranded at the Ukrainian port of Mykolaiv, it added, citing shipping trackers.

About 3,500 sailors have been stuck on about 200 ships at Ukrainian ports, according to London-based shipping tracker Windward Ltd. More ships were stranded around the globe than at any point since World War II, maritime historians have said.

“We are doing everything we can to extract and evacuate them,” Ms. Arriola said. “Our honorary consul in Moldova is helping out to make sure they cross the border. Usually, seafarers have enough food and supplies but the problem is the worsening security situation in their area.”

On Tuesday, 21 seafarers of MV S-Breeze, a bulk carrier, arrived as the first group of seafarers repatriated from Ukraine. Seven others from MV Joseph Schulte came home that evening, while seafarers of MV Star Helena, MV Global Aglaia, MV Key Knight, and MV Pavlina were on their way to Manila from Bucharest.

“We’re expecting more to arrive today and the following days,” Ms. Arriola said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. has ordered the agency to stop allocating passport appointment slots to recruiters after several people and groups were found selling these slots online.

“Recruiters will no longer be given passport slots,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “They will have to go online like everyone else. This won’t affect overseas Filipino workers (OFW).”

OFWs may walk in with supporting documents starting March 14, Mr. Locsin said. “This should make passport appointments easier and as it should be, absolutely free for all.”

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido J. Dulay has asked the police and the cyber-crime units of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the matter.

The Philippines has voted yes to a United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It sought an end to the fighting and appealed for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here