DUBAI: The scheduled evacuation of Filipino workers from Afghanistan Tuesday night has been deferred after hordes of panicked crowds overran the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, affecting commercial flights in the ensuing confusion and chaos.
“The Philippine Airlines flight [chartered by the Philippine foreign affairs department] was supposed to land tonight and pick up 80 Filipino expatriate workers, but was deferred because the airplane could not land,” Joseph Glenn Gumpal, president of the Filipino expatriate community Samahang Pilipino sa Afghanistan told Arab News.
“We are following up with the Philippine embassy in Pakistan, which has jurisdiction over Afghanistan, when the flight would be. We have advised those who would be on the flight to be ready and on call, and not to bring check-in luggage but only hand carry items,” Gumpal added.
“For the meantime, we are taking precautions [due to the security situation] and have moved to a more secure place,” Gumpal said, after the company declared a dissolution and the Taliban threat remains in place.
There is widespread trepidation in Afghanistan’s expatriate community that those who have been directly or indirectly involved in companies related to American interests could be potential targets for the Taliban.
At least 32 of the estimated 130 Filipinos in Afghanistan have been evacuated since August 16, and arrived early Tuesday in Manila through a government-chartered flight via Doha in Qatar.
“Thanks to companies they worked for; we had nothing to do with it. But we’re on to taking out those without sponsors. Filipino community leaders took the lead to assemble their compatriots for take out at instant’s notice. Thank you, OFWs; as usual low or rather no maintenance,” foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said in a Twitter post.
The Philippine government has been coordinating with governments and international partners to guarantee the Filipino nationals’ immediate and safe passage, the foreign affairs department earlier said.
Meanwhile, foreign affairs assistant secretary for strategic communications Eduardo Meñez on Tuesday told local media that “the DFA is working non-stop to explore all options to ensure the safety and welfare of our people in Afghanistan in the face of challenging conditions. We seek your patience as we try to accomplish this sensitive mission.”