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59 Pinoys in Lebanon want to come home

THE Philippine Embassy in Lebanon yesterday said 59 Filipinos have requested assistance to return to Manila amid the escalating clashes between Israel forces and the Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah in the country’s southern border with the Jewish state.

The number is expected to increase in the coming days, especially after the Department of Foreign Affairs raised Alert Level 3 in the country, which means voluntary repatriation, said Ambassador to Lebanon Raymond Balatbat.

The DFA said there are over 17,500 Filipinos in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, 25 more Filipino workers returned from Israel yesterday.

The Department of Migrant Workers said “an infant” was with the repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the third batch of repatriates from Israel since war broke out earlier on October 7 when Hamas attacked Israel.

The first batch, composed of 16 OFWs, came home last Wednesday while the second (18 OFWs), returned last Friday.

Balatbat said an increase in Filipinos wanting to come home from Lebanon could also be due to intensified clashes between Israel forces and Hezbollah members.

“The intensity and frequency of the military exchanges, the mortars, the artilleries, the missile exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel have been increasing in frequency over the past few days. Foreigners are urged to leave by their embassies and a number of airlines have been cutting down flights to Beirut,” Balatbat told CNN Philippines.

“On Sunday morning when we held our meeting with Filipino community leaders here, we already received 59 applications (for repatriation),” he said.

Of the 59, Balatbat said, three are from southern Lebanon, site of frequent clashes between Israel troops and Hezbollah members.

He said majority of those who requested repatriation to Manila are from Beirut and Mount Lebanon area.

On Sunday, DFA Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said the DFA is not forcing Filipinos to leave Lebanon, but added, it would be better if they will come home now because the clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah might escalate.

Balatbat echoed a similar concern, adding that while the supply of basic commodities such as food and water in the country are still enough