08/01/2014, 00.00
LIBYA - PHILIPPINES

Evacuation of 13,000 Filipinos from Libya almost ready

The Philippines' Foreign Secretary flew to Tunisia to oversee rescue operations and convince Filipinos who want to stay fearing unemployment at home that they should leave. The beheading of a Filipino worker and the gang rape of a nurse triggered the emergency. China too is sending a ship to repatriate its citizens.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) - Filipino Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario flew to Tunisia to oversee the evacuation of 13,000 Filipinos from Libya, after a worker was beheaded and a nurse was gang raped. Most Filipino migrants in Libya are in Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli.

For weeks, the North African country has been torn by violent clashes between Islamists and the army.

Despite broad acceptance, the Filipino community has been harassed by Islamic extremists, partly because of the Catholic faith practiced by most Filipinos.

On 20 July, Manila ordered a mandatory evacuation of its citizens, shortly after a 50-year-old Filipino worker was beheaded because he was not a Muslim.

On 30 July, a group of young men kidnapped a nurse from her home in Tripoli. At least six of them raped her.

Del Rosario explained that he flew to Djerba to "try to convince our people to leave Libya because the situation is very dangerous."

In fact, many of his compatriots - mostly employed in hospitals and building sites - do not want to leave the country fearing unemployment back in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, even the Chinese government is preparing to evacuate its citizens in Libya. Beijing has chartered a ship to carry its citizens.

More than 100 Chinese workers have already reached Tunisia by land, whilst 78 more are in Greece, Xinhua reported.

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