MANILA – The Philippine government, via its Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), issued a statement on Tuesday, urging 4,000 Filipino workers in Afghanistan to leave the country and return home.
The statement came as a result of rising tensions and conflicts in Afghanistan, amid an election stand-off that has created fears of instability and ethnic unrest.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued Alert Level 3 (voluntary repatriation phase) for Afghanistan due to the heightened tensions in that country following the conduct of the presidential elections last June 14,” it said in a statement.
“With this announcement, Filipinos in Afghanistan are strongly encouraged to volunteer to return to the Philippines.”
On Tuesday, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah pronounced himself victorious, saying that election fraud caused his rival, Ashraf Ghani, to rank ahead of him in initial results.
This resulted in an election stand-off, which has raised concerns that protests could quickly turn into ethnic violence and possibly cause renewed fighting between warlords; such as the situation that devastated Afghanistan during the 1992-1996 civil war.
Although the Philippines has an existing travel ban to the nation ravaged by war, the government admits that this has not been enough to stop Filipino civilians from going there, seeking employment; often entering via other countries, in pursuit of high-paying jobs on US military bases.
DFA spokesman Charles Jose told reporters from AFP that there are approximately 4,000 Filipinos working for US contractors in Afghanistan.
He added that the Philippines does not have an embassy in Kabul, and that diplomatic representation in that country is an extension of the Filipino mission in Pakistan.