Philippines to evacuate workers in Middle East hinh anh 1President Duterte chairs a meeting with senior officials on January 5. (Photo: AP)

Hanoi (VNA) –
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to prepare to deploy aircraft and ships to evacuate thousands of Philippine workers in Iraq and Iran in case violence breaks out following US airstrike at Baghdad International Airport last week.

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go said that President Duterte chaired a meeting with senior officials on January 5, during which he asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be prepared to deploy military assets to repatriate Filipinos in the Middle East, particularly from Iran and Iraq at any moment’s notice.

According to military chief of staff Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr. said Philippine forces have identified possible evacuation routes not only in Iraq and Iran but other hotspots like Israel.

The Philippines is a leading source of labour worldwide with about a tenth of its more than 100 million people working mostly as household help, construction workers and seamen.

There are more than 7,000 Philippine workers and their dependents in Iraq and Iran, including many who work in the US and other foreign facilities and commercial establishments in Baghdad, the Department of National Defence said.

The workers in Iran and Iraq are a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who are employed in countries lining the Persian Gulf.

Like the Philippines, other countries have taken measures to bring their workers home. Asians make up 40 percent of the world's migrants, and Middle Eastern countries are a common destination.

Tensions have risen in the Middle East after a US airstrike killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Iran has announced revenge for its military official while US President Donald Trump warned the US is targeting 52 Iranian sites if Iran attacks Americans or US assets./.