MANILA — Despite challenges in evacuating Filipinos from strife-torn Yemen, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday said no one will be left behind.
Del Rosario admitted that he once contemplated imposing a deadline on the government’s evacuation operation in Yemen, but said as a national policy, all Filipinos in conflict areas must be moved to safety. In the case of Yemen, dozens of Filipinos still opted to stay amid security risks.
“I want to put a deadline but our policy is we leave no one behind,” Del Rosario told ANC news channel. “When they’re ready to come home we will be there for them.”
Since Manila imposed mandatory repatriation of its workers last month, over 450 have left Yemen, but less than 300 have remained, he said.
Del Rosario said those still staying in Yemen should consider leaving immediately while all evacuation routes remain passable, adding that the government can not afford to risk their safety and the security of Philippine embassy team leading them out of danger zones.
“We are saying to them that the situation has become dangerous and that they are vulnerable. This may be your last chance and we may not get the chance to get you because it’s already too late,” he said.
Del Rosario said the government find it hard to convince many Filipinos to leave since a lot of them have settled in Yemen for a long time and fear that they will not find a job back home.
But the biggest challenge, he said, is trying to convince those who prefer to wait out to leave. Normally, many Filipinos would decide to evacuate at the last minute if situation turns worse.
Despite this, he said the government is committed to ensuring their safety.
“I’m saying we’ll come and get you when we could come and get you because you have lingered to take your time and now it may be too late but we will come and get you when it’s safe,” Del Rosario said