The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) welcomed on Saturday night the first batch of Filipinos evacuated from conflict-torn Sudan.

The group of eight hotel workers arrived at Terminal 3 in Pasay City via Qatar Airways Flight No. QR 204.

The DSWD provided psychosocial intervention to the repatriated Filipinos as an initial assistance. The eight fled from Khartoum, Sudan, and arrived in Greece onboard a Greek military aircraft. They were received by Philippine Ambassador to Greece Giovanni Palec.

On Friday, the 17 repatriates flew out of Athens, Greece and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, including the eight hotel workers, after representations with the Greek government through the Philippine Embassy in Athens.

The Embassy received the group in Athens on Friday morning and arranged for their flight back to the Philippines through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistance-to-Nationals Fund.

The other nine, including one infant, fled capital Khartoum via Port Sudan where they boarded a C130 plane of the Saudi Royal Air Force bound for Jeddah.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) provided the repatriation tickets for the eight workers while the Consulate arranged for the flight of the other evacuee, a student.

The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah issued travel documents to those who did not have their original passports.

The DFA said personnel from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), OWWA, and the Department of National Defense have also been deployed to augment the evacuation efforts.

As of posting time, 610 Filipinos have fled Khartoum, with 391 crossing to the Egyptian side of the border in buses chartered by the Philippine Embassy in Cairo and the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Sudan.

The Embassy is currently arranging for their temporary visas and repatriation flights to the Philippines, while DMW and OWWA are preparing for shelter and other welfare assistance during transit.

“The Embassy and our DMW teams will make sure they will all be treated well onboard buses and in Cairo,” DMW Secretary Susan Ople said. Ople earlier flew to Cairo to lead the distribution of welfare assistance to evacuated OFWs from Sudan.

DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo expressed his gratitude to the foreign governments which extended help to Filipinos streaming out of the strife-torn state.

He also emphasized that the Philippine government is working tirelessly to assist the Filipinos who have left Sudan.

The DFA, DSWD, and other concerned government agencies continue to coordinate with their foreign counterparts to ensure the safety and welfare of the Filipinos affected by the conflict in Sudan. –