PH preparing to 'welcome' Rohingya refugees – Locsin

Published May 19, 2021, 3:25 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippines is preparing to welcome Rohingya refugees to the country and develop “complementary pathways” that would allow them to stay until a sustainable and lasting solution to their displacement in Myanmar can be found.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

A program to welcome the Rohingya refugees is currently being developed jointly by the Philippine government, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relevant partners, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Executive Director for Strategic Communications Ivy Banzon-Abalos told the Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.

Under the complementary pathways program, Abalos said the Philippines is considering providing education and business training among the modalities of possible assistance to the Rohingyas although they have yet to come up with a “final form”.

Complementary pathways provide safe and regulated avenues for refugees by which they may be admitted to a third country and have their international protection needs met while they are able to support themselves to potentially reach a sustainable and lasting solution.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. acknowledged this ongoing development about the Rohingyas while recently commenting on the newly released book of multi-awarded Vietnamese photojournalist Nick Ut where a photo of one of the Vietnamese refugee camps set up in the Philippines in the 1970s was featured.

“Thank you Nick. From hell to safety in the Philippines. Our proudest moment. We pick up the pieces of the broken world. We’re preparing to take in Rohingya. We prefer to help than talk a lot,” Locsin tweeted.

Ut spent some time in the Philippine refugee camp before migrating to the United States where he now resides.

In a pre-recorded address at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) last year, President Duterte conveyed the Philippines’ willingness to accept refugees and forcibly displaced people, including the Rohingyas.

“The doors of the Philippines are open, as they have always been, to everyone fleeing for safety, such as the Rohingyas,” Duterte said in his remarks.

The UNHCR immediately lauded the Philippine government’s commitment to protecting the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar.

The UN agency also cited the Philippine government for continuously being a “model for refugee protection and a leader in the region in its support for refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons”.

UNHCR data showed that over 700,000 Rohingya, mostly women and children, have sought safety in Bangladesh after fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

The United Nation Information Center (UNIC) office in Manila did not immediately respond when asked to provide an update on the UNHCR’s preparations.