MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Dozens of Filipinos fled from the war-ravaged Gaza Strip into Egypt through the Rafah crossing after Filipino diplomats negotiated for their safe passage and Qatar mediated for the border to be opened, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday.
The 40 Filipinos were traveling to the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where they planned to take flights back to the Philippines, Marcos said in a video message in Manila. Two Filipino doctors managed to leave the Gaza Strip into Egypt last week.
“I hope the rest of our countrymen who also wanted to return home can also exit properly with their spouses and loved ones,” Marcos said.
Most of at least 134 Filipinos in Gaza, many of whom are married to Palestinians, have sought help to leave the besieged territory and are waiting for an opportunity to leave, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said.
Hamas militants rampaged in southern Israel on Oct. 7, which sparked a war between Israel and Hamas.
Before the war began, about 30,000 Filipinos were living and working in Israel, many as caregivers who look after the elderly, the ill and those with physical disabilities, according to the Philippines’ foreign ministry. The huge income they send back home has helped keep the country’s fragile economy afloat.
The Philippines is a major source of manual labor worldwide.