The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is exploring all possible ways to ensure the safe repatriation of the remaining Filipinos in Afghanistan as security situation there becomes volatile two days since Taliban fighters seized the capital.
Out of the estimated 130 Filipinos in the country, at least 32 have been evacuated since Sunday (August 16).
“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,” DFA Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Eduardo Meñez told reporters on Tuesday.
The department raised alert level 4 on Sunday and ordered the mandatory repatriation for Filipinos in Afghanistan.
“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 takeout at instant’s notice,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said in a separate tweet.
Commercial airspace in the South Asian nation has been shut while foreign troops struggle to keep the Afghan capital’s airport functional.
On Monday, chaos ensued at the Kabul airport as desperate Afghans, fearing for the worst under Taliban’s rule, scrambled to escape the country.
Videos of people chasing an American military plane while taxiing the runway circulated online. In some clips, the civilians were seen hanging on the engine as the plane took off at Kabul Airport, two of whom were seen falling from the sky.
According to Afghanistan’s UN ambassador Ghulam Isaczai, there are already reports of target killings and looting in Kabul.
“Kabul residents are reporting that Taliban have already started house to house searches in some neighborhoods in Kabul, registering names and looking for people in their target list,” he said.
In a Monday tweet, Locsin joined the United Nations in its appeal to preserve international humanitarian law and human rights, especially the hard-won gains of women and girls in the country.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres at an emergency session of the Security Council said “the following days will be pivotal” and “we cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan”.
He stressed that the Security Council must “stand as one, and ensure that human rights are upheld, humanitarian aid continues, and that the country does not again become a platform for terrorism.”