Elmer Cato, chargè d’affaires at the Philippine embassy in Libya, said 18 Filipino nurses survived a rocket attack at a hospital south of Tripoli.
Abdullah Doma/AFP
Philippine nurses survive Libya rocket attack
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An overseas Filipino worker was injured while dozens of others barely escaped rocket attacks that rocked the Libyan capital of Tripoli in recent days.

Elmer Cato, chargè d’affaires at the Philippine embassy in Libya, said 18 Filipino nurses survived a rocket attack at a hospital south of Tripoli.

Cato confirmed the Filipino nurses were safe hours after the hospital they were working in was struck by rockets on Wednesday.

“We are relieved that 15 Filipino nurses at a hospital south of Tripoli that was struck by rockets last night are all safe,” Cato wrote on Twitter last Thursday.

“(We) could not contact them for a few hours. We were assured by hospital owner they will be moved to a safe location today,” he said.

Cato identified the injured Filipino worker as Rolando Torres, who was hit during a rocket attack in a neighborhood in Tripoli on Tuesday.

Cato also clarified there were 18 Filipinos working in the hospital. 

He said the nurses informed the embassy that they will stay in Libya despite the incident.

The Filipino nurses were among those who narrowly missed death in the ongoing infighting between the government and rebel forces in the Libyan capital and nearby areas.

Cato added another six Filipinos were trapped when fighting erupted n their neighborhood in Tripoli on Friday.

But despite narrowly missing death, Cato said only Torres requested repatriation, with the others citing various reasons why they do not want to go home.

“Rolando has been working in Tripoli since 2006 and had seen the Libyan capital at its most violent but the attack (Wednesday) night that wounded the Nueva Ecija native in the forehead was different. He now wants to go home,” Cato said.

Torres is the 20th Filipino to request for repatriation after the fighting broke out, which resulted in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) declaring Alert Level III in the Libyan capital and nearby areas.

Filipinos in the affected areas were requested to avail of the repatriation offered by the government. A deployment ban is also in effect.

“Some are senior nurses who may not be absorbed by hospitals here if they go home. Some have well paying jobs,” Cato told The STAR.

“Some are waiting for their back salaries and benefits to be paid. Most are veterans of the 2011 and 2014 wars and subsequent crises and feel they would again survive this one,” he said.

The DFA said seven Filipinos have flown back to Manila this week via Tunisia, where they were evacuated by the Philippine embassy in Libya.

The first batch of repatriates included three employees of the Ali Omar Ashkar Hospital, located outside Tripoli, and four students at an Islamic school in the Libyan capital. 

Cato said the hospital workers left Tunis on Wednesday, while the students boarded a flight to Manila on Friday. –  Ding Cervantes

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