Filipino Nurses in Libya Remain, Earning Respect

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MANILA—Hundreds of Filipino nurses and medical staff, who have opted to stay behind in strife-torn Libya, are winning the hearts of the locals and improving the reputation of the Philippines in Arab countries, said Esteban Conejos, The Philippines’ foreign undersecretary.

“That's why our nurses deserve our admiration. Also, I guess it's the reason Libyan people love Filipinos there,” Conejos said last Friday in a briefing on his return from a two-week visit to Libya and Tunisia.

Several dozen nurses, fearful of escalating hostilities in Libya, have returned to Manila, Conejos said, But many more--1,300 alone in Libya's largest hospital, the Tripoli Medical Center, and another 600 in the Benghazi Medical Center--had decided to stay behind in the midst of strife out of professional commitment.

“They told us, 'Sir, we cannot go, we are medical personnel. We should be the last ones to leave hospitals. There are people dying here,’" Conejos said.

He said Libyans were appreciative of the Filipino presence “because of what they showed. In the heat of the fight, they remained and served the interest of the people of Libya.”