TUNIS, Tunisia — The Philippines and Tunisia agreed to strengthen cooperation to address the plight of migrants, particularly as the Philippine government repatriates its citizen affected by uncertainty in Northern Africa.
Chief Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Relations Robert Borje paid a courtesy call on Tunisian Acting Foreign Minister Sabri Bachtobji on Friday. Undersecretary Borje conveyed President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s message, lauding the Tunisian government’s vital role in the region.
Through his representative, President Duterte expressed his gratitude to Tunisia for assisting Filipinos exiting Libya. The President also wants to work with Tunisia not only on the issues of migrant workers but also on security aiming to achieve deeper relations despite the distance.
In response, Acting Foreign Minister Bachtobji said it is very important for the Philippines and Tunisia to work together, stressing it was Tunisia’s duty to assist distressed citizens, including Filipinos, fleeing conflict.
Both recognised the long-standing cooperation between the Philippines and Tunisia to assist distressed Filipinos displaced by instability and strife in nearby countries. Both also agreed on the need for the Philippines and Tunisia to continue working closely to further enhance mechanisms of assistance.
Bachtobji said Tunisia, which will assume as a non-permament member of the United Nations Security Council, could play a significant role in achieving global security and stability on top of its initiatives towards addressing the condition of distressed migrants.
Borje said the Philippines will continue to support Tunisia as it becomes a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for two years beginning in January 2020.
Because of its strategic location, Tunisia, along with Malta and Egypt, has been a major exit point for Filipinos going out of Libya.
Some 2,300 overseas Filipino workers are still in the north African country despite the Philippine government’s call for a mandatory evacuation. This year, 142 Filipinos from Tripoli were repatriated by the government. PND
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