PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday extended condolences to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who ruled the middle eastern country for almost two decades.

Mr. Duterte conveys the Filipino nations solidarity with the UAE in this period of great loss and bereavement,” his office said in a statement.

The Philippine leader recalled that Mr. Khalifa, 73, was a bold visionary whose leadership was crucial in the UAEs sustained economic transformation and deeper engagement with the international community, including the Philippines.

More than 679,000 Filipinos live in the UAE, according to Philippine government data.

Filipinos working in the UAE, a federation of seven emirates, sent home a record $31.4 billion cash remittances last year. The UAE was among the top ten countries that accounted for 78.9% of total remittances to the Philippines last year.

In another development overseas, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has lowered the alert level in parts of Ethiopia, which means mandatory evacuation for Filipinos there will no longer be implemented

Regions that are now under Alert Level 2 from 4 are: Oromia, including the cities of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa; Somali; Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region; Gambella; Harari; and South West regions.

The DFA earlier raised the alert level in the African nation to level 4 due to intensifying internal conflict.

Alert Level 2 is issued when there are threats to the life, security, and property of Filipinos arising from an internal disturbance or external threat to the host country. Filipinos in such areas must restrict their movements, avoid public places, and prepare for evacuation if necessary.

Filipino workers allowed by the Department of Labor and Employment to fly to these regions are limited to those who are returning under existing contracts.

Alert Level 4 remained in effect in the Tigray, Afar, Amhara and Benishangul-Gumuz regions in northern Ethiopia. Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan