Philippines orders evacuation of Filipinos from Iraq

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) — The Philippine government said yesterday that it has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Filipino workers from Iraq and the coast guard said it is sending a vessel to the Middle East to ferry its citizens to safety in case hostilities between the United States (US) and Iran worsen.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said the government has raised the alert level in Iraq to the highest level, requiring Filipinos to leave the country due to escalating security risks. Filipinos can leave on their own or escorted out with the help of their employers or the Philippine government.

Other Asian nations with large populations of expatriate labour may weigh similar decisions after Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases housing United States (US) forces in a major escalation of hostilities. The strikes were retaliation for last week’s killing of Iran’s top general in a US drone attack.

India, which has a large number of workers in the Middle East, advised its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Iraq. It also urged its nationals living in Iraq to remain alert and avoid travel within the country.

There are an estimated 15,000-17,000 Indian now in Iraq, mostly in the Kurdistan region, Basra, Najaf and Karbala. About 30,000-40,000 Indians visit Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf and Samarrah in each year for pilgrimages.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte talks during the Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police (AFP-PNP) Command Conference at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila. PHOTO: AP