OFWs in northern Afghanistan ask for repatriation

Published August 24, 2021, 1:05 PM

by Jaleen Ramos

Four Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in northern Afghanistan are appealing to the Philippine government for repatriation.

Taliban fighters stand guard at an entrance gate outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul on August 17, 2021. Javed Tanveer / AFP

In GMA’s Unang Hirit report, Alfonso Dorado, an OFW staying in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, said that while the United Nations has a contingency plan, there is still no exact date when they will be repatriated.

“Wala pa pong exact date dahil so far ‘yung airport po naka lockdown ( There is still no exact date because the airport is on lockdown),” he said.

“Sa ngayon, okay naman po, pero hindi kami nakakalabas. Wala naman po kaming naririnig na mga krimen sa labas, mga insidente, wala naman po (So far it is okay, although we could not go out. We don’t hear crimes being perpetrated outside or of any other incidents),” Dorado added.

He said they are currently staying at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) compound.

While the Mazar-i-Sharif has almost become a ghost town after the takeover, Dorado said some stores remain open and there is still a supply of food in the city.

“Sa family ko, wag ho silang magalala. Medyo safe pa kami ngayon pero hindi pa hundred percent kasi nandito pa kami sa loob ng Afghanistan (To my family, don’t worry, we are still relatively safe now but not one hundred percent because we are still here in Afghanistan),” one of the OFWs said.

“Marami pang puwedeng mangyari anytime. Humihingi po kami ng tulong na kung puwede ang ahensiya ng gobyerno, kung may paraan na makuha kami rito sa Mazar, magawan po sana ng paraan (There is a lot that could happen anytime. We are asking for help from government agencies, if there is a way for us to be repatriated from Mazar, we hope they could find a way),” he added.

He said all they want is to be repatriated and go back to the Philippines.

“‘Yun po ang hinihintay namin at ayaw naming mangyari na magiging rescue operation na (We do not want the situation to become a rescue operation),” the OFW told GMA.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan on Monday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Several countries, including the Philippines, rushed to evacuate their citizens and local staff from Kabul after the Taliban’s lightning takeover of Afghanistan.

The Philippine government started the mandatory evacuation of Filipinos in Afghanistan last August 15.

As of August 23, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said over 180 Filipinos in Afghanistan have already been repatriated to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, there were still 27 Filipinos left in Afghanistan, with 17 are seeking help to leave the country. The rest of the OFWs decided not to leave the country due to work-related reasons.