Filipino evacuees from Gaza face limbo, homelessness in Philippines

Filipino evacuees from Gaza face limbo, homelessness in Philippines
Palestinian Filipinos are seen at a hostel of the University of the Philippines in Manila on Dec. 19, 2023. (AN Photo)
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Updated 22 December 2023
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Filipino evacuees from Gaza face limbo, homelessness in Philippines

Filipino evacuees from Gaza face limbo, homelessness in Philippines
  • 116 Filipinos from Gaza were flown by the Philippine government to Manila
  • Several days after arrival they were left to their own devices

MANILA: Revelina Cargullo was one of the first Filipinos evacuated from Gaza and brought to Manila last month. When she and her family arrived in the Philippines, authorities arranged a hotel for them for three days, after which they were left on their own.

Of the 137 Filipinos who were living in Gaza when Israel began its bombardment of the enclave in October, over 116 were flown to the Philippines — some, like Cargullo, alongside their Palestinian spouses.

The have left everything behind. They were displaced from their homes by deadly Israeli strikes that have since killed at least 20,000 people and destroyed more than half of the enclave’s infrastructure. And then, they left Gaza altogether when they returned to the Philippines.

“We are thankful to the government for bringing us home, for saving us from the war.

But it is hard (for) us to come home without money and (with) nowhere to stay,” Cargullo told Arab News, as she was preparing to move to a third place since reaching Manila.

When the first Filipino-Palestinian families arrived in the Philippines, they were greeted at the airport by government officials and in addition to cash aid handed to them by the Philippines Embassy in Egypt, they received extra support from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and were housed in hotels.

But a few days later they were on their own.

“When we were sent home after leaving Gaza, we were told that we will be taken care of when we get home,” said Cargullo, 61, who arrived in Manila with her Palestinian husband and children.

“Our embassy in Cairo gave us $1,000 from the government and it was also the government that shouldered our airfare. Then we got here the Department of Social Welfare and Development also gave us 20,000 pesos ($360) per family.”

Most of the Filipinos in Gaza are permanent residents. Two-thirds of them are Palestinian-Filipinos born or raised there.

After living in Palestine most of their lives, not all of them still had relatives in the Philippines, and if they did, not all of them had the means to help.




Rev. Allan Sarte, secretary-general of the Philippines-Palestine Friendship Association, comforts Revelina Cargullo, who was one of the first Filipinos evacuated from Gaza, in Manila on Dec. 19, 2023. (AN Photo)

“Many of these families, they don’t really have family here anymore or they don’t have the capacity to help them,” Rev. Allan Sarte, a pastor who serves as secretary-general of the Philippines-Palestine Friendship Association, told Arab News.

The association stepped in and helped organize help with other civil society groups when they learnt that 13 families of evacuees had nowhere to go.

The groups created a task force that included representatives of Muslim and Christian organizations, Migrante International — an alliance of overseas Filipinos — and the University of the Philippines, which housed the evacuees for the past few weeks.

On Thursday, they moved to flats, where they will stay for a while.

“We could really feel their trauma, we could see their trauma. But after a month or more, they’re now okay,” Sarte said.

“They were transferred yesterday to an apartment complex inside a subdivision in Cainta, Rizal, just outside Metro Manila. The task force also shouldered the initial and advanced payment for their rent ... We are still looking for a long-term housing for them.”

Sarte said that while the task force was looking for employment for the evacuees, “the future is still bleak for them” and urged the government to be there for the people it took responsibility for.

“Help is beginning to come in from private people, but ... this is the primary responsibility of the government. The government should take care of them because they are Filipinos,” he said.

“Aside from merely expatriating them I think you have to help them especially with the legal documents that they need so they can find work, so they can normalize somehow their lives here.”

For the Department of Foreign Affairs its task ended when the evacuation process was completed.

“Now it is up to other government agencies, including local government units and private contributors,” Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega told Arab News on Friday.

“But DFA is coordinating with other agencies on this.”

Sarte was hopeful that authorities will take action and as Christmas is approaching, he remembered the story of another Palestinian family, which two millennia ago was looking for shelter in Bethlehem.

“When we remember how Mary and Joseph at first had no place to stay, in that spirit we are also calling on you and our friends, brothers and sisters if we can extend help to these brothers and sisters here who also have no place to stay,” he said.

“These are refugees, these are people fleeing from war.”


Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
Updated 28 May 2024
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Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
  • Labour, if elected, would recognize Palestinian statehood, says Angela Rayner

LONDON: Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has promised that her party will do everything in its power to ease the suffering in Gaza as it bids to regain Muslim voters’ support, a leaked video surfacing on social media has revealed.

The footage was first reported by the political blog Guido Fawkes, which claimed to have obtained the leaked tape from a meeting in Ashton-under-Lyne, Rayner’s constituency.

The MP is seen appealing to voters upset with the party’s stance on Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Telegraph reported.

Rayner — claiming she worked “day and night” to get three British doctors out of Rafah and is now attempting to secure aid for the enclave — said: “I promise you, the Labour Party, including myself, is doing everything we can, because nobody wants to see what’s happening.”

She acknowledged the party’s current inability to halt the fighting, admitting that Labour’s influence would be “limited,” even if it came to power after July’s general election.

Rayner added: “Only last week the Labour Party were supporting the ICC (International Criminal Court). The Conservatives didn’t support the ICC, so with this general election on that issue, we can’t affect anything when we’re not in government.

“And I’ll be honest with you, if Labour gets into government, we are limited. I will be honest. I’m not going to promise you … because (Joe) Biden, who’s the US (president), who has way more influence, has only got limited influence in that.

“And Qatar, Saudi Arabia, all of these people, we are all working to stop what’s happening at the moment; we want to see that. So I promise you, that’s what we want to see.”

Rayner also promised that, if Labour was elected, the party would recognize Palestinian statehood.

She added: “If Labour gets into power, we will recognize Palestine. I will push not only to recognize … there is nothing to recognize at the moment, sadly. It’s decimated.

“We have to rebuild Palestine; we have to rebuild Gaza. That takes more than just recognizing it.”

Gaza has been a divisive issue for Labour since Oct. 7, with reports revealing that Muslim voters have abandoned the party as a result of what they perceive as its politicians enabling the war.

The Telegraph found that Labour’s support had dropped in local elections in areas with large Muslim populations, including Oldham in Greater Manchester, where the party lost control of the council in a surprise defeat.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed his determination to re-establish trust among those who have abandoned his party due to his handling of the Gaza war.

However, when probed on particular commitments, he remained vague.

Rayner said in the video: “I know that people are angry about what’s happening in the Middle East.

“If my resignation as an MP now would bring a ceasefire, I would do it. I would do it if I could effect change.”

However, she said such an eventuality was not “in my gift” due to the “failure of the international community.”

In response to the footage, Nigel Farage, Reform UK’s honorary president, accused Rayner of “begging” for the Muslim vote, The Telegraph reported.


12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
Updated 28 May 2024
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12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
  • Several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides, and all schools were shut
  • India’s weather office warned of extremely heavy rains in northeastern states on Tuesday

Guwahati: Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful cyclone caused the collapse of a quarry in India’s Mizoram state killing 12 people, government officials said Tuesday.

“So far 12 bodies have been found, we are looking for more,” deputy commissioner of Aizawl district Nazuk Kumar told AFP.

Rescue efforts in the quarry were being hampered by “heavy rains,” police director general Anil Shukla said, NDTV news network reported.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma offered compensation to families of the victims of the “landslide due to Cyclone Remal.”

“I pray for the success of rescue and relief operations and wish a speedy recovery of the injured,” India’s President Droupadi Murmu said on social media.

In Mizoram, several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides. All schools were shut and government employees asked to work from home.

India’s weather office has issued warnings of extremely heavy rainfall across Mizoram and other northeastern states on Tuesday.

In India’s neighboring Assam state, one person was killed and heavy rains had cut the power supply, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a statement.

The cyclone made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighboring India on Sunday evening with fierce gales and crashing waves.

Overall, at least 38 people died in the cyclone or storms in its wake.

In India, eight people died in West Bengal state, officials said Tuesday, updating an earlier toll of six, taking the total killed in the country to at least 21.

In neighboring Bangladesh, which bore the brunt of the cyclone that made landfall on Sunday, at least 17 people died, according to the disaster management office and police.


Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
Updated 28 May 2024
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Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
  • Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily
  • “We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do”

WARSAW: Poland’s foreign minister says the NATO nation should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and should keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in suspense over whether such a decision would ever be made.
Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do,” Sikorski said when asked whether he would send Polish troops to Ukraine.
Sikorski said he has gone to Ukraine with his family to deliver humanitarian aid.
But a spokesperson for Poland’s Defense Ministry, Janusz Sejmej, told Polish media on Tuesday he had “no knowledge of that” when asked about a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggesting Poland might send troops to Ukraine.
The idea of sending foreign soldiers to Ukraine, which is battling Russian military aggression, was floated earlier this year in France, but no country, including Poland, has publicly embraced it.
Poland supports neighboring Ukraine politically and by providing military equipment and humanitarian aid.


Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
Updated 28 May 2024
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Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
  • The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia
  • SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The body of a five-month-old baby was found on Tuesday when some 85 migrants heading for Italy from Tunisia were rescued from distress at sea, according to a Reuters witness.
The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia two days earlier bound for Italy, according to charity group SOS Humanity.
SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted and suffering from seasickness and fuel burns as they were rescued before dawn on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.
Some 185 migrants rescued in separate operations this week, including the stricken boat overnight, were being taken aboard “Humanity 1” to the port of Livorno in northwest Italy. Another 120 migrants were transferred by coast guard boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the southern Mediterranean.
Tunisia is grappling with a migrant crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict further south in Africa as well as the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.
Italy has sought to curb migrant arrivals from Africa, making it harder charity ships to operate in the Mediterranean, limiting the number of rescues they can carry out and often forcing them to make huge detours to bring migrants ashore.


Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
Updated 28 May 2024
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Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
  • Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Ukraine should hold a presidential election following the expiry of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term.
Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term, something he and Kyiv’s allies deem the right decision in wartime. Putin said the only legitimate authority in Ukraine now was parliament, and that its head should be given power.