DFA raises alert level 2 for Filipinos in Myanmar

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021   •   453

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday raised the alert level for Filipinos in Myanmar amid the political unrest in the country.

“In view of the developing critical situation in Myanmar, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised the alert level for Myanmar to Alert Level 2 as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the remaining 1,273 Filipinos there,” the DFA said in a statement.

The raising of alert level status entails “restriction of non-essential movements, avoiding of places of protest, and preparation for possible evacuation,” the department said.

“Only returning workers with existing contracts shall be allowed to travel to Myanmar,” it added.

The DFA also reiterated its advice to Filipinos in Myanmar to exercise due caution, and monitor developments through reputable sources.

Filipinos in Myanmar are also urged to avoid places of protests, and to observe the guidance of the Philippine Embassy in Yangon.

The military took over the civilian government in Myanmar, detaining leaders including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi last February 1 over allegations of election fraud.

The armed forces staged the coup in support of the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud following a general election which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide. Protests have since erupted in parts of the country against the military takeover.

Meanwhile, the DFA reported that a total of 55 Filipinos from Myanmar arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

They were flown home by a Myanmar National Airlines Flight arranged since January 15, the department said.

The COVID-19 relief flight was facilitated through the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar and its Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs.

“Most overseas Filipinos who joined the flight were self-paying passengers, while two repatriates were directly assisted by the Philippine government by shouldering their overstaying fees and tickets,” the DFA said.

Last February 15, the DFA also repatriated 139 Filipinos from Myanmar via a chartered flight.

“The DFA through its network of 94 Philippine Embassies and Consulates General across the globe is always ready to assist our overseas Filipinos who wish to return to the Philippines due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in their host countries,” DFA Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said.

DFA brings home 163 more Filipinos from Myanmar

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, once again chartered another flight from Myanmar with 163 Filipinos on Thursday (April 8).

Most of the repatriates were stranded in the country due to travel restrictions from the pandemic.

This latest chartered flight, along with the previous two from Yangon, were funded by the DFA Assistance-to-Nationals Fund.

The 163 Filipinos from Myanmar included 4 seniors and 14 minors, including 3 infants.

The repatriates will be undergoing quarantine protocols, as required for all those who arrive in the country.

With these new arrivals, the total number of overseas Filipinos who have been repatriated since the start of the pandemic inches closer to 400,000.

From Myanmar, the three chartered flights have now brought home a total of 334 Filipinos.

More than 3,000 people flee to Thailand after Myanmar’s army air strikes villages

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 29, 2021

More than 3,000 people in Myanmar have crossed to Thailand to take refuge after the Burma Army launched air strikes on Myanmar’s southeastern Karen state.

According to Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), the military launched night-time airstrikes on Day Bu No Village, Lu Thaw Township, Mu Traw District on March 27, killing three civilians and injuring seven others.

The KWO, an indigenous women’s organization, has condemned the said attacks and expressed fear as more attacks will soon be launched on other villages.

“Many villagers are now hiding in terror in the jungle, and more than 3,000 have crossed to Thailand to take refuge,” the KWO said.

The organization also calls for call for a UN Security Council resolution to prevent further mass atrocities.

“Burma’s security forces must be held accountable for their crimes. Diplomats and governments must stop giving legitimacy to this murderous regime. It’s clear the Burma Army leaders are not capable of change nor are they open to any dialogue to stop the violence,” the organization said.

Death toll in Myanmar’s coup rises to more than 300

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 26, 2021

Over 300 people have been killed as Myanmar’s military forces continue their crackdown on anti-coup protests, according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Based on AAPP’s data as of March 25, a total of 2,981 have been arrested, charged, or sentenced; while 320 individuals, including a 7-year-old child, were killed.

AAPP is a human rights organization based in Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma. The advocacy group also noted that 90% of the casualties were shot by Myanmar’s security forces.

“Night protests were held in a number towns, some of which were violently cracked down. People were shot to death, injured, and arrested,” according to the AAPP.

Due to the worsening situation in Myanmar, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews, on Thursday (March 25) called on UN member states to hold an emergency summit for an “immediate robust, international response in support of those under siege.”

“Without a focused, diplomatic solution, including the hosting of an emergency summit that brings together Myanmar’s neighbors and those countries with great influence in the region, I fear the situation of human rights in Myanmar will further deteriorate as the junta increases the rate of murders, enforced disappearances and torture,” Andrews said. -AAC (with reports from Kath Dumaraos)

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