(Eagle News) — The first batch of Filipinos repatriated from Iraq amid brewing tensions between the United States and Iran arrived on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the batch, composed of 11 adults and two children, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Baghdad and Erbil, and was received by officials of the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs.
The batch includes the seven adults and two children whose departure from Baghdad to Doha was delayed due to immigration problems, the DFA said.
According to the DFA, the repatriation was made possible after the agency, upon the instructions of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., met with the Iraqi charge d’affaires on Wednesday, Jan. 14.
Charge d’affaires Jomar Sadie of the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad also met with representatives of the Iraqi government.
“The Iraqi side responded favorably to the Philippines’ request in the spirit of friendship and cooperation,” the DFA said.
“The DFA expresses its profound gratitude and appreciation to the Iraqi government, in particular the Iraqi embassy in Manila, for their invaluable assistance and cooperation in expediting the repatriation of our kababayan,” the DFA added.
Tensions between the US and Iran heightened following a US airstrike that killed top Iranian military official Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
Iran, in retaliation, fired at US military targets in Iraq.
The Philippine government has said the mandatory repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers applied only to Iraq, but that OFWs in Lebanon and Iran may also seek the assistance of the government to return to the Philippines.