UNHCR welcomes Philippines’ commitment to protect Rohingya
President Duterte said, “The doors of the Philippines are open, as they have always been, to everyone fleeing for safety, such as the Rohingyas”
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the Philippine Government’s expression of willingness to accept refugees and forcibly displaced people, including Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, during President Rodrigo Duterte’s address to the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 22 September.
In his pre-recorded message, President Duterte said, “The doors of the Philippines are open, as they have always been, to everyone fleeing for safety, such as the Rohingyas.”
The statement echoes the President’s previous pronouncements regarding the Philippines’ commitment to protect the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar. Since August 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya, mostly women and children, have sought safety in Bangladesh after fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. In recent months, over 2,000 have set out to sea in search of asylum in other States.
UNHCR continues to call for support and humanitarian action from States and lauds the Philippines’ consistent willingness to accept the Rohingya and other forcibly displaced people in line with its commitments as a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its endorsement of the Global Compact on Refugees. At the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019, the Philippines also pledged to develop complementary pathways for admission of the most vulnerable refugees—including the Rohingya—which would allow them to stay in the country until a sustainable and lasting solution to their displacement can be found.
To this end, UNHCR has worked and will continue to engage with key agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice. The Philippine Government continues to be a model for refugee protection and a leader in the region in its support for refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons.
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Maria Jorica Pamintuan
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