Growing racism against migrants in Libya feared

Migrante International today expressed renewed fears for the safety of overseas Filipino workers who are still in Libya amid reports that anti-Gaddafi rebels have been targeting migrants and other nationalities.

Reacting to reports that migrants may be in double jeopardy because rebels view them with suspicion, Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez called on the Philippine government anew to speed up repatriation efforts and release updates on the well-being and whereabouts of at least 14,000 Filipinos who are still in Libya.

Martinez raised the alarm anew after a series of attacks on the embassies and territories owned by Kenya, Africa, Venezuela, Vietnam and the Philippines. “We have received reports that the rebels are killing and targeting dark-skinned people because they are viewed as ‘mercenaries’ and supporters of Gaddafi,” he said.

He added that Libyan rebels are also being reported to hold in suspicion Venezuelans, Vietnamese and Filipino nationals whose governments have not yet officially recognized the Transitional National Council (TNC).

Earlier, Libyan rebels attacked and ransacked the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli.  No Filipino was reported hurt but Martinez said that the recent attack gives a clear picture of the still escalating chaos in Libya. “There is an ongoing turmoil brought on by a general sense of anarchy and lawlessness in Libya. It makes it a lot harder to believe the Philippine government’s claims that no Filipinos have been contacting them for repatriation.”

Of the six million population in Libya, an estimated 1.5 million are migrant workers. Before the conflict erupted, some 30,000 Filipinos were based in Libya. Only half have been repatriated by the Philippine government.

Recall labor attache

Martinez also said that it is high time to recall negligent Philippine government officials in Libya, among them Labor Attache Nasser Mustafah who, according to Migrante’s contacts in Libya, continue to facilitate and arrange job orders for Filipino workers in Libya despite the dangerous situation there.

Labatt Mustafah allegedly has questionable links with the FASTLINK Agency owned by a certain Mr. Al Hadih.  “We have received reports that as we speak Labatt Mustafah is preparing prospects of employment for Filipino medical workers in the Al Nahar Company (ANC),” he said. Martinez said that Al Hadih has a Filipino wife who is based in Cebu City.

“We call on the government to urgently investigate these reports in accordance to the deployment ban presently in place,” Martinez said. ###