MANILA, August 16, 2011 (AFP) â€“ The Philippine government on Tuesday urged its 17,000 citizens in Syria, most of them domestic workers, to leave amid the escalating violence there.
The foreign department said that under its â€œvoluntary repatriationâ€ program it would bear the cost of flying the Filipinos home.
â€œAll Filipinos working and residing in Syria are enjoined to leave Syria and the Philippine government will provide for the repatriation cost,â€ it said in a statement.
The government has said it earlier advised Filipinos to leave three violence-ridden Syrian cities but few heeded the warning.
Nearly all the Filipinos in Syria are domestic helpers who might have difficulty getting out on their own, said President Benigno Aquino.
About 26,000 Filipinos fled Libya this year amid the growing revolt there, with hundreds of Filipinos also told to evacuate the capital of Yemen.
About nine million Filipinos work around the world, earning more money in a wide range of skilled and unskilled jobs abroad than they could in their impoverished homeland. â–