The situation is no different in the Middle East. With their ability to adapt to local cultures, Filipino nurses--particularly those of Muslim faith--have been practising in these countries. Loath to let them go, it turns out the Libyan government has promised increased pay in exchange for Filipino nurses not leaving the country immediately. While the risk-reward ratio of such an action is debatable, these nurses are hedging on medical facilities not being targets for the pro-Gadhafi forces, the rebels, or the Western no-fly zone enforcers. Risky? Yes, but I hope their safety is indeed what they believe it is. From the Philippines' Daily Tribune:
At least 2,300 Filipino nurses have refused to be evacuated even after the United Nations approved military strikes against Libya. Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the nurses, 2,000 of whom are based in capital Tripoli and 383 in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, opted to stay following request from the Libyan government, which promised to increase their pay significantly if they remain.Matters are complicated by Manila throwing its backing to UN Resolution 1973:
“We have not received any request to come and provide transport so they can leave Tripoli,” Del Rosario said. “They feel safe being in a hospital and there’s nothing safer than being in a hospital.” But if the situation worsens, he said the government can arrange another ship to pick them up. The government has ended its evacuation in Libya and has moved to safety some 13,000 Filipinos.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Eduardo Malaya said the Filipino nurses chose to stay “in order to fulfill their professional obligation and attend to the needs of the sick and wounded...The safest places for them are the hospitals were they work. Hospitals are considered protected areas under international humanitarian law,” he added.
Manila has expressed support to the UN resolution in Libya. Malaya said the Philippines “abides by the decision of the UN security council in imposing a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace as a member of the UN and a signatory of the UN charter. “This UN action is a humanitarian measure which is meant to safeguard the civilian population in Benghazi and other contested areas of said country,” he said.And speaking of which, the Philippine government is on the hook for its citizens in several other Middle East destinations where ongoing protests may yet put them in harm's way. Take Syria and Bahrain:
Recent developments, he added, “will not likely adversely affect Filipinos, as the bulk of our nationals already exited Libya.” The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli will remain open to serve the needs and oversee the safety of the remaining Filipinos there, he said. “Ambassador Alejandrino Vicente and the embassy staff in Tripoli will remain to take care of the country’s interests and ensure the safety of Filipinos who chose to remain for personal reasons,” Malaya said.
In Syria, Philippine officials there are ready to activate the country’s contingency measures once the political strife worsens. A stock estimate from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas showed 19,423 Filipino workers in Syria. Syrians also took the same path as their neighbors by staging similar loud protests against their authoritarian government, hoping it would result in having their political freedom restored.I suppose this is one of the unspoken responsibilities of mass migration in the 21st century. For, we have an international system where (economic) migrants are ultimately no one's responsibility except for the home country.Given that the Philippines does promote such migration, it's only fair. Then again, there will always be those who are more adventurous--alike the Filipino nurses in Libya.
“The Philippine Embassy in Syria is closely monitoring developments in certain parts of the country,” Malaya said, adding that the 1,050-strong Filipino peacekeepers stationed in Golan Heights who were deployed to the country as part of a UN peacekeeping contingent can be mobilized to evacuate the thousands of Filipinos if needed.
Meanwhile, Bahrain Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa has assured the Philippine government that all Filipinos will be provided protection amid the growing unrest in the Middle East state. Khalifa on Saturday personally relayed this message to Del Rosario, who is currently on five-day Middle East swing to check on the condition of Filipino workers trapped in the spreading conflict across the region.