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Last batch of repatriates from Gaza arrives in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — The last batch of Filipinos fleeing war-torn Gaza arrived in the Philippines Wednesday more than four months after bombardment and ground raids by the Israeli military began. 

“This makes a total of 136 out of the original 137 Filipino nationals in Gaza who have finally been evacuated,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement Thursday. 

A Filipino nun, the only remaining Filipino citizen in the Palestinian territory, has chosen to stay despite the ongoing conflict. The Philippine Embassy in Amman, Jordan is monitoring her situation.

According to the DFA, the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, Egypt provided each family with financial assistance before they flew back to Manila. 

The South China Morning Post reported last December that Filipino-Palestinian families were struggling to find shelter since their repatriation from Gaza. 

The report noted they were given cash aid by embassy officials in Egypt and the Department of Social Welfare and Development as well as a three-day hotel stay in Manila. However, after this initial support, they were left to their own devices.

At least 29,410 people have been killed in Gaza since the war between Hamas-led militants and Israel began on October 7, according to the Palestinian territory’s health ministry. Another 69,465 have been wounded. 

Israel launched air strikes Thursday on southern Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where around 1.4 million Palestinians forced to leave their homes have sought shelter. 

Over four months of relentless fighting and air strikes have flattened much of Gaza, pushing its population of around 2.4 million to the brink of famile, according to the United Nations. — with report from Agence France-Presse