MANILA – The Philippine government has pledged USD100,000 or around PHP4.85 million to assist, through the United Nations, the Rohingya refugee crisis that has affected over a million people in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since 2017.
“The Philippines is announcing a modest financial contribution of USD100,000 for the UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees) to be earmarked for the response to refugees from Rakhine State but our offer really is — Come, the rejected by the rest of the world,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a video message for the virtual Donor Conference on Sustaining Support for Rohingya Refugee Response on October 22.
The assistance is aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement during the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly where he announced his “open door” policy for refugees, including Rohingya people fleeing for safety.
Locsin, meanwhile, said Manila would support the Myanmar government’s efforts to ensure the safe and voluntary return of displaced persons and the sustainable development of all communities in Rakhine State.
“(The Philippines) Myanmar and its Great Lady against the same schemes to subdivide their country like the one that divided Libya for easier exploitation. Together with the rest of ASEAN, we will continue to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations,” he said.
According to the UNHCR, the Rohingya situation remains an “acute humanitarian and human rights crisis” more than three years after the August 2017 violence, which caused hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people to flee their homes in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.
To date, there are about 860,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar district, while an estimated 600,000 Rohingya people in Rakhine State are facing violence and discrimination, said the UN agency.
Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and other countries in the region are also hosting nearly 150,000 Rohingya refugees.
Amid the mounting refugee crisis across the world, Locsin called on the international community to respond with “an unbridled concern for the well-being of others as for our own.”
“The never-ending recurring scenario of being driven away from one’s home because of strife, violence, and persecution is one of our species’ unnecessary heartbreaking invention. The only way to even this out is to respond with ‘malasakit,‘” he said.
Manila’s humanitarian legacy goes way beyond the 1951 UN Refugee Convention when it welcomed 800 White Russians, about 1,300 Jewish refugees escaping the Holocaust, Spanish Republicans fleeing fascism, Chinese taking flight from Civil War, and a second wave of White Russians.
“Post-convention and protocol, we opened our doors once again to both people from Vietnam, to Iranians, Indo-Chinese, and East Timorese refugees, among others,” Locsin said. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora /PNA – northboundasia.com