By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

(File photo)

MANILA – The number of Filipinos in Sudan requesting repatriation has reached 156 as the armed conflict between the Sudanese military and a paramilitary group continues, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

“Ang sabi ng ating embassy, over 500 na ang nag-message sa kanila. Out of the 500 plus, 156 ang handa at any moment na umuwi na (Our embassy there said over 500 Filipinos sent them a message. Out of the 500 plus, 156 are ready to go home at any moment),” DFA Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said in a televison interview.

He noted that there are only around 300 Filipinos who are registered residents of Sudan.

However, there could be up to 700 Filipinos, mostly undocumented, residing there to date.

De Vega said the 156 Filipinos who want to go home are “not illegal and undocumented”.

“Meron silang passport at visa (They have passport and visa),” he added.

The repatriation will begin in the next few days as the DFA rents vehicles to transport more Filipinos out of Sudan.

Over the weekend, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said the government could not ascertain a secure land route for the Filipinos to leave because none of the airports are functioning and there is a long distance between Khartoum and Cairo where the embassy is located.

The Filipinos could either travel to Port Sudan where there are ferries going to Saudi Arabia or go to the border of Egypt where a team would bring them to Aswan and fly to Manila from there, De Vega said.

He said no Filipino casualties were reported in Sudan.

As of April 23, at least 420 people were killed and more than 3,700 injured due to the clashes that broke out, especially in Khartoum City and Darfur Region. (PNA)