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56 more Pinoys leave Gaza

MANILA, Philippines — More Filipinos have fled from the war-ravaged Gaza Strip and are on their way to Cairo, Egypt, President Marcos announced yesterday.

“Happy to hear the update that 56 more Filipinos have left Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, joining the 42 who had previously crossed,” the President said in a post on X.

“This brings the total to 98 out of the 137 originally in Gaza, now en route to Cairo,” Marcos said. 

He said 34 of the Filipinos boarded a flight to Qatar and were expected to arrive in Manila yesterday afternoon.

“The safe journey of our nationals is of utmost importance, and we look forward to welcoming them home,” the President said in another social media post.

There are 137 Filipinos in Gaza, many of whom are married to Palestinians. The Filipinos and their Palestinian spouses were allowed to exit Gaza through the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. 

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega earlier said the Gaza repatriates would not be treated like overseas Filipino workers when they return to the country as they are considered migrants in the state of Palestine. 

“So, they will have a different set of ayuda (assistance), different packages for them,” De Vega said at a news forum early this month.

De Vega said the Department of Foreign Affairs raised (DFA) would be working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government in providing support to the repatriates from Gaza.

At a press conference on Nov. 3, Marcos said the Philippines has also offered assistance to Thais, Vietnamese and Southeast Asian nationals who were stranded at the crossing and want to leave Gaza.

Four Filipinos have been killed in the conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas, which started after the militant Palestinian group attacked last Oct. 7.

The DFA raised Alert Level 4 over Gaza on Oct. 15, requiring the mandatory repatriation of Filipinos.

Some 35 Filipinos from Gaza, accompanied by Palestinian migrants including 11 children, arrived aboard Qatar Airways flight QR 932 that landed at 4:20 p.m. at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 yesterday.

The Palestinian migrants were