PH calls for unity in protecting refugees, asylum seekers

Published October 7, 2021, 7:33 PM

by Betheena Unite

The Philippines is calling for solidarity among all nations in protecting and assisting refugees and asylum seekers.

Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Evan P. Garcia (Photo courtesy of the DFA/Geneva PM)

“We call on the international community to ensure that the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) has the resources and mandate to carry on with its humanitarian work,” Ambassador Evan P. Garcia, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said during the UNHRC 72nd Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Program.

Garcia said the Philippines acknowledges the work of the UNHRC in the country as he expressed solidarity with the international community in “better protecting and assisting refugees, asylum seekers, stateless and displaced persons, and other persons of concern.”

“The pandemic in the past two years has been a test of basic humanity, and the commitment of all the world to the pledge of leaving no one behind,” Garcia said.

“We believe that burden and responsibility sharing means compelling actions that are beyond comfort zones, beyond stop-gaps, beyond token measures,” the ambassador added.

Garcia also highlighted the country’s resolve to extend assistance to refugees during public health emergencies, noting the role of the Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit under the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Philippines has traditionally been a safe haven for the most vulnerable, and the country has gained a reputation of helping persecuted populations, including Jews during the Second World War and Vietnamese in the 1960s. During this year’s 76th UN General Assembly, the country has committed to assist Afghans and Rohingyas.

“Without hesitation, we opened our doors to Afghan nationals, including women and children,” Garcia said, repeating the Philippines’ pledge to help Afghanistan.

“We are designing a pilot Complementary Pathways program that can help a specific number of Rohingyas,” he added.