MANILA: The Philippines said on Monday it was sending two “rapid response” teams of diplomats to the Middle East to prepare for possible evacuations of its nationals in conflict-torn Gaza.
One team was heading to Egypt and another to Israel to help the countries’ Philippine embassies design an exit strategy for Filipinos there, foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
“We wanted to be proactive and not be caught flatfooted when the time comes for moving them out and taking them out of harm’s way,” Hernandez told reporters, without specifying how many officials were going from Manila.
Hernandez said there were about 100 Filipinos in Gaza who may need to be evacuated, although so far nobody has asked for Manila’s help.
Many Filipinos in Gaza are married to Palestinians and may be reluctant to leave, he said.
However, the government is still readying “contingency plans” to evacuate them, either via the border with Egypt or through Jordan, Hernandez added.
He said about 41,000 Filipinos live in Israel and they may also need diplomatic assistance due to the escalating violence.