07/31/2014, 00.00
LIBYA - PHILIPPINES

Tripoli priest calls for the repatriation of Filipino workers whose lives are risk

Filipinos, who number 13,000, are targeted by Islamic extremists. For the parish priest at Mary Immaculate Church, they should be considered "war refugees", and be "evacuated by ship". Two religious congregations recall nuns in Libya because it "is risky to stay here."

Tripoli (AsiaNews/CBCP) - The Catholic Church in Libya "is doing everything possible" to help Filipino workers return home safe and sound, said Fr Amado Baranquel, parish priest at Tripoli's Mary Immaculate Church. Hence, the Filipino government should "rescue them via the sea" since armed clashes between Libyan government forces and the rebel groups have made land travel "too unsafe".

About 13,000 Filipinos live in Libya. Although they are welcome in the country, they have also been affected by the Islamist advance. A 50-year-old man who worked for a construction company was kidnapped and beheaded in Benghazi on 23 July because he was not Muslim.

"Violence and rapes against foreigners are happening every day," Fr Baranquel explained.In fact, two orders of nuns have repatriated their members to Italy, he said. "It is too risky for them to stay here."

Filipinos are "war refugees," the priest added.  "Depending on the number of evacuees, we might transport them by ship," he said."A trip by land is unthinkable at the moment. The militias and Al-Qaeda Islamists are after each other's throats battling for supremacy here."

Baranquel renewed his appeal to the faithful to continue praying for the well-being of their fellow Filipinos stranded in Libya.

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