Leave Afghanistan, Philippines urges nationals
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government urged its nationals in Afghanistan on Tuesday, July 8, to leave the Central Asian country as violence increased during the presidential elections.
In a statement, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advised voluntary repatriation by raising crisis alert level 3 in Afghanistan.
The DFA cited “the heightened tensions in that country following the conduct of the presidential elections last June 14.”
The DFA said: “Alert level 3 is declared when violent disturbances or external aggression occurs in a limited area of a country. With this announcement, Filipinos in Afghanistan are strongly encouraged to volunteer to return to the Philippines.”
It added that the Philippine government “maintains a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Afghanistan.”
The DFA “continues to monitor the political and security developments in Afghanistan,” it added.
An estimated 4,000 Filipinos are now working for US contractors in Afghanistan, DFA spokesman Charles Jose told Agence France-Presse.
The Philippines does not maintain an embassy in Kabul, with its diplomatic representation in that country under the Filipino mission in Pakistan, he added.
The DFA's warning came after former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani won Afghanistan's presidential election, according to preliminary results Monday, July 7.
Ghani's poll rival, Abdullah Abdullah, rejected the outcome as “a coup against the will of the people.”
Fraud allegations immediately sparked a dispute and stoked concerns of instability after the figures showed Ghani collected 56.4% of the run-off vote against ex-foreign minister Abdullah's 43.5%.
Afghanistan's international backers have lobbied hard to try to ensure a smooth election process, but the contested outcome realized their worst fears and risks, setting back gains made since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
The deadlock has already tipped Afghan politics into a crisis at the same time that the Taliban have underlined their strength with a major offensive in the southern province of Helmand.
The insurgents, who see the election as a plot of the United States to control Kabul, threatened to target voters, and violence spiked on both polling days, but there was no major militant attack.
Afghanistan has been battered by decades of conflict, and any power struggle would undermine claims that the hugely costly US-led military and civilian mission has helped to establish a functioning state. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com