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DFA hopes Egypt-Gaza Rafah crossing opens this weekend

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is hopeful that the Rafah crossing, the border between Gaza Strip and Egypt, would open this weekend to allow Filipinos, who are caught in the Israel-Hamas strife to cross and seek refuge.

Israel_Hamas3.jpgPalestinians carrying foreign passports wait at the Rafah gate in the hopes of crossing into Egypt amid Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip. (Photo by SAID KHATIB/Agence France-Presse)

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo de Vega said during the “Bagong Pilipinas” press briefing on Wednesday, Nov. 1, that reports on the ground indicated Egypt could soon open the border.

“May positive news ako. Ang balita is unti-unti nang bubuksan ng Egypt kasi tatanggap na sila ng mga sugatan na Palestinians na walang access sa medical care (I have positive news. Reports say that Egypt will slowly open [the border] because they will start accepting wounded Palestinians who have no access to medical care),” the official shared.

Philippine Ambassador to Cairo Ezzedin Tago is currently coordinating with Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow Filipinos to cross the Rafah border with the Palestinians, De Vega said.

The Rafah border crossing is the only way out of war-torn Gaza.

He added that the names and other details of the Filipinos, who want to be repatriated to the Philippines, are already with embassy officials.

The DFA official explained that Egypt was taking time opening the Rafah crossing because it wanted to make sure that no terrorists could escape out of, or enter Egypt.

Once the border opens, De Vega said the Philippine government would be more than ready to bring the Filipinos back home.

Out of the 136 Filipinos in Gaza Strip, 57 are already at the Rafa Crossing, the official disclosed, adding that 126 Filipinos were already accounted for.

The Philippine Embassy in Jordan, which has jurisdiction over Filipinos and Philippine affairs in Gaza Strip, is awaiting contact with a family of 10 Filipinos.

“Ang palagay ng Embassy hindi sila kasama sa namamatay (The Embassy thinks that they are not included in those who died),” the official stressed.

The Philippine government has raised Alert Level 4, or mandatory repatriation, in Gaza Strip.

So far, some 121 Filipinos, including two infants, have already arrived from Israel, while more than 100 are awaiting repatriation.

Another batch will arrive on Nov. 6, so more will be coming in the next weeks.

Meanwhile, the official also reported that 165 Filipinos are currently awaiting repatriation in Lebanon amid the escalating tensions there between Israel and Islamist group Hezbollah, a known ally of Hamas with bases in southern Lebanon.

The Philippine Embassy in Beirut, however, would still need to process the permits of 112 Filipinos, De Vega said, citing Philippine Ambassador Raymond Balatbat.

He also shared that the first batch of Filipinos—comprised of only about five or six persons —will be arriving this Friday, Nov. 3.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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