Gunshots, tear gas surround OFWs as they flee Afghanistan

Published August 25, 2021, 1:37 PM

by Jaleen Ramos

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Afghanistan shared how they evaded gunshots and tear gas to get to safer grounds after the Taliban overran the country.

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies / AFP

Rio Fabe said his team immediately rushed to the airport after they were informed that they had to leave Afghanistan.

“Nagkaron na ng shutdown ng communication. So yun, ang signal — namatay na ang internet, na-isolate na ang Afghanistan. (There has been a communication shutdown. So that’s the signal — the internet was down, Afghanistan is already isolated). The military advised us to just pack our things, flown sa vehicle. and then move,” Fabe said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

Fabe and his other Filipino workmates were allowed to board a German military plane, the report added.

“Sa labas ng Kabul, chaotic na. Abnormal na talaga ang traffic, maraming counterflow, mga tao nagmamadali lahat (Outside Kabul, it’s chaotic. The traffic is really abnormal, there is a lot of counterflow, people were all in a hurry),” he recalled.

Fabe, meanwhile, said he still has no plans of returning to the Philippines.

“We might as well stay na lang dito outside the Philippines para madali rin kaming maka-move in case (We might as well just stay here outside the Philippines so we can easily move in case),” he said.

Another OFW shared his and other 30 Filipinos’ story after walking seven kilometers to Kabul airport along with thousands of locals.

“Hindi maganda yung nangyari sa amin eh. Ang daming mga putukan at mga tear gas na nangyari (What happened to us was not good, there were many gunshots and tear gas),” he said.

He said they were told that they had to leave Afghanistan in the next 45 minutes so they scrambled to go to Kabul airport but no flight was available to them.

He said their flight was finally arranged with the help of the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan.

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

As of Aug. 24, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said there are now 26 Filipinos remaining in Afghanistan, with 16 of them seeking help to leave the country.

The rest of the OFWs decided not to leave the country due to work-related reasons.