The Philippine government has rejected an appeal by Libyan authorities to lift its ban on stopping a new wave of Filipinos from working in the conflict-racked North African country.
Manila insisted it was sticking by its decision amid safety concerns and problems involving money remittances.
“Our OFWs (overseas foreign workers) in Libya face two natural difficulties: their safety and security, and their ability to send their earnings back to the Philippines,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.
In 2011, the Philippine government stopped OFWs traveling to Libya because of unrest in the country. The ban was lifted in 2012, but was reinstated two years later when civil war broke out. About 14,000 Filipinos were repatriated home.
Then earlier this month, the Libyan Charge d’ Affaires, Ahmed Eddeb, appealed to lift the ban due to the demand for workers in the medical, construction and oil field sectors. He pointed out that the security situation had improved since 2014, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
But the DFA last week turned down the request. “Under the present Alert Level 2, for the safety of all parties, the deployment of new workers to Libya is still not possible,” the DFA said.
Under Alert Level 2, the deployment of new Filipino workers is restricted and only those with existing employment contracts can return to the country.
The DFA also warned Filipinos who wished to work in Libya to avoid “illegal recruitment” schemes, where they travel as tourists to other Asian cities to secure employment visas.
“This is illegal recruitment, which is frowned upon by the Libyan government,” it said.
In 2011, there were 26,000 OFWs in Libya. But by July, there were only 3,000 left in the country.