Gov’t to evaluate Afghans seeking refugee status in PH — Guevarra

Published August 18, 2021, 11:58 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

Afghans will have to undergo evaluation before the grant of permanent refugee status in the Philippines, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Wednesday, Aug. 18.

This was pointed out by Guevarra after Malacanang announced on Tuesday, Aug. 17, that the Philippines is prepared to accept Afghan refugees following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

“If Afghan nationals do arrive in the Philippines and apply for permanent status as refugees, the DOJ Refugees and Stateless Persons Unit (RSPU) will evaluate whether they meet the international standards for refugee status,” Guevarra said.

“If necessary, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) may be called upon to determine if the applicant poses a threat to national security,” he said.

If an Afghan refugee applicant passes the evaluation, “the Bureau of Immigration will implement the decision and issue the appropriate documentation to the applicant,” he also said.

“Once granted refugee status, an applicant and his family are essentially on their own. But the Philippine government may extend such assistance as it could afford,” Guevarra stressed.

He said the Philippine government did not set any limit as to how many refugees the country is willing to accept.

“The Philippines adopts an open-arms policy towards refugees and other persons suffering persecution in their home countries. These include potential Afghan refugees displaced by the current political upheaval in their country,” he said.

“If their status as refugees is recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), and they need temporary shelter in the Philippines, we have an emergency transit mechanism in place pursuant to a memorandum of agreement with the UNHCR,” he he added.