Philippine authorities on Thursday urged thousands of Filipinos in Iraq to leave now even if it appears that the U.S. and Iran were backing
away from a rapidly escalating military conflict.
The Philippine government earlier ordered a mandatory evacuation for around 5,000 Filipinos in Iraq after Iran fired missiles at two
facilities housing American troops.
The strikes were in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike.
“We need to start moving (Filipinos) out now while the airport is still open and the roads are clear,” said Environment Secretary Roy
Cimatu, a former military general who led the repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East in past conflicts.
“The nature of this conflict is (that) it is unpredictable
“If the situation deteriorates, it will be more difficult. We have to move them out now,” he added.
Cimatu, who was scheduled to travel to Doha later Thursday to oversee the plans for the evacuation, said at least 1,600 Filipinos have
already expressed their willingness to leave Iraq.
He urged Filipinos with relatives in Iraq to appeal to them, especially those who are undocumented.
“We can’t just leave behind those who don’t want to evacuate.
“We would like to request the families to tell their relatives to move out for their own safety,” he said.
There are at least 2,191 documented Filipinos working and living in Iraq, while an estimated 3,000 are undocumented, according to Labour
Secretary Silvestre Bello.
At least 1,184 Filipinos are in Iraq, he added.