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59 Filipinos in Lebanon ask for repatriation

MANILA, Philippines — At least 59 Filipinos in Lebanon have requested to return to the Philippines amid escalating tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s military group Hezbollah, Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Raymond Balatbat said on Monday.

Casualties were reported along the Israel-Lebanon border over the weekend after Israel’s military traded fire with Hezbollah and one of its aircraft struck southern Lebanon.  

“On Sunday morning when we held our meeting with FiIipino community leaders, we already received 59 applications,” Balatbat said during an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The number of Filipinos eyeing to be repatriated could increase in the following days following escalating tension between Israel and Hezbollah, Balatbat added.

The Philippine Embassy in Lebanon on Sunday has opened applications for repatriation for any of the 17,500 Filipinos in the country who wish to be repatriated. This comes after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)’s decision to raise Alert Level 3, or voluntary repatriation, due to the clashes between Israel and Hezbollah.

“We heard that a number of Lebanese families living near the southern border with Israel have already left the area and have come here to Beirut,” the envoy said, adding that there is a lot of “uncertainty” in the area at the moment.

Last week, the embassy reminded Filipinos to avoid gatherings and unnecessary travels around Lebanon, “especially to the South,” due to the ongoing mass protests across Lebanon and the security risks posed by the country’s ongoing conflict with Israel.

Israel has been launching extensive airstrikes on Gaza since October 7, resulting in more than 1,400 people dead and a high number of civilian casualties. 

Ongoing clashes with Hezbollah militants along Israel's northern border have also raised concerns about the conflict spreading to neighboring countries. — Cristina Chi with reports by Gaea Katreena Cabico and Agence France-Presse