8 nurses back after IS ordeal, DFA says
EIGHT Filipino nurses who were held hostage by the Daesh in Libya are back in the Philippines but the government fears “three or more” missing captives may already be dead, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said.
Yasay also said the arrival of eight is apart from the two other Filipinos who escaped from the hands of the so-called Islamic State, also known as Daesh, and arrived in Manila a little earlier.
“They were rescued by Libyan soldiers but there were at least three or four others who are unfortunately missing and [may already be] dead,” Yasay said in an interview over ANC Headstart, adding that the Philippines has yet to receive any information about the missing Filipinos.
“There are also two who were able to escape when the ISIS has seized them together with eight others, who have been here ahead of time,” he added.
The nurses were employed at the Ibn Sinai Hospital in Sirte when the Libyan city was overran by Daesh in June 2015.
Yasay said he met the eight Filipino nurses and they related their experiences. “Some were very teary eyed,” Yasay said, adding the nurses where all forcefully converted to Islam in exchange for their lives.
Yasay also said the nurses were also forced to medically treat Daesh fighters and even taught them basic first aid.
“But I really honestly think these nurses are true heroes. They have made sacrifices being there. And if ever they were forced to treat ISIS soldiers or combatants, it was in line with their professions,” he said.
“They told me that they were scared. The ISIS threatened them with death of they do not cooperate and tell the truth,” Yasay cited. Authorities later freed the nurses after Sirte’s recapture for which Yasay said the Philippines did not pay any ransom.
“I would also like to take this opportunity of really thanking Libyan embassy here, the Libyan government for that matter. Without their cooperation and immediate information conveyed to us, we would not be able to act as swiftly as possible,” Yasay said.