Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN) — OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFWs) injured in the massive explosions in Beirut, Lebanon, imcreased to 42 as of August 8, Saturday.
The new number came after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) added 11 more to the previous total after the Philippine Embassy in the blasts-hit city reported the new injuries.
DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola explained this in an article the DFA posted on its website.
“By day’s end yesterday (Friday), the number of OFWs stands of 42, an increase of 11 from the previous report. We were also alerted that another Filipino was missing, increasing the number to two.
“The number of Filipino fatalities, meanwhile, remains at four,” she pointed out.
Through the embassy in the Lebanese capital, the DFA assured that it continues to verify the Filipinos’ condition in the wake of the blasts early morn on August 4.
Lebanese leaders blamed the blasts on 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored “without safety precautions” in a warehouse in the Mediterranean Sea port city.
Government ascertaining OFWs’ condition
The massive amount of highly explosive compound was reported to be bound for Mozambique for its mining industry nearly seven years ago. It did not reach its destination and remained stuck in Beirut.
Authorities in Lebanon have mounted ground operations to clear the wide blasts area, giving embassy personnel more access to updates on the situation of the country’s Filipino community.
Earlier, the Department under Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. acknowledged that the number of Filipinos affected could increase because of the reported magnitude of the destruction.
In the blasts’ aftermath, the DFA announced on August 7 it has chartered a repatriation flight to get home Filipinos in Lebanon.
The DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) chartered the said flight scheduled to be done on August 16 (Sunday).
OUMWA added the flight will also bring home the mortal remains of Filipino victims of the explosions.
Arriola cited the flight’s significance.
“The President heard the clamor of our kababayans (countrymen). This chartered flight is the most concrete, immediate and timely assistance that the (DFA) could provide given the current situation in Lebanon,” she pointed out.
DFA’s repatriation flights from Lebanon actually begun much earlier, in fact even before the novel coronavirus pandemic because of the objective to stop Filipinos’ worsening condition because of the Middle East country’s economic problems.
“Since December 2019, the Department has repatriated at least 1,508 Filipinos from Lebanon. When Covid-19 struck, the DFA moved to provide assistance to our overseas Filipinos in the country,” Arriola emphasized.
The DFA through embassies in various parts of the world has been making the repatriation flights as OFWs have lost their jobs due to coronavirus lockdowns.
In Lebanon, OFWs may contact the embassy through these numbers: +961-81334836; +961-71474416; +961-70681060; and +961-70858086. (SDN)