Phl still a vocal ally of UNHCR

Justice Secretary Crispin C. Remulla assured the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that the Philippines will continue to be one of its most vocal allies in global humanitarian action.

“Despite our being a modest country, facing serious domestic issues like the energy crises, climate change, and disaster-induced internal displacement, we stand hand in hand with the international community in pushing the boundaries of how much we can help, to go beyond our comfort zone,” Remulla said during the 73rd Session of the UNHCR Executive Committee in Geneva, Switzerland on 10 October.

The Philippine government, he said, heard the High Commissioner’s plea to the international community for solidarity hence, Filipinos affirm and confirm their continuing, strong active support and cooperation to ensure the success of the global humanitarian agenda.

He added that although the Philippines is confronted with its own people’s domestic displacements resulting from climate change and armed conflict, it has continued to welcome refugees from all over the world under the government’s long-standing open-door policy towards displaced people and other persons of concern.

“We are a nation of migrants, a land of people on the move, a safe haven for nine waves of refugees fleeing persecution,” he said.

Highlighting equitable attention to different crises in different regions so as ensure that no refugee situation and no hosting community remain ignored or underfunded, Remulla cited the need to provide sufficient support for all hosting communities who spend and divert limited resources to help those in need.

He expressed hope that middle countries can also become formidable, proactive voices and champions, who can fill in gaps where needed, and increase contributions where possible.

“There is an urgency to broaden the base of support beyond traditional donors and traditional hosting countries. The so-called ‘missing middle’ must step up and strive to be agents of change,” he said.

PBBM’s call

Remulla also echoed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call during the recent UN General Assembly for an international system that must work for the most vulnerable, especially the marginalized, migrants, and refugees.

The Philippine Development Plan, he said, provides a clear directive for government agencies to enhance the country’s humanitarian policies and programs such as the ratification of the 1961 Statelessness Convention, the passage of the Foundling Act, the establishment of an inter-agency body for protection services, and program launch of the Complimentary Pathways for Rohingyas (refugees from Myanmar).

“We are also already looking ahead. Our focus is refining our small but scalable programs that suit our own national condition as a modest host country, while also remaining a donor to UNHCR and other humanitarian funds,” he added.

He also called for the integration of climate change mitigation and adaptation, with defined action areas and operational guidelines, in the work of the UNHCR such that there should be sufficient support for developing countries to address climate change displacement, which is within the obligations under the Paris Agreement.

“We must also ensure that the global food crisis and the rising inflation do not detract from our ability to deliver humanitarian services, nor create more vulnerabilities for displaced persons,” he said, as he thanked the UNHCR, aid workers at the frontlines of humanitarian work, who remain resilient and dedicated in the face of conflicts and crises.

Remulla was accompanied by Ambassador and Permanent Representative Evan P. Garcia, Department of Justice Undersecretary Raul T. Vasquez, Department of Justice State Counsel Melvin C. Suarez, Department of Foreign Affairs Acting Director Majella Cristy Pua-Diezmos, and Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN Third Secretary Jet C. Olfato.

The 73rd Session of the Executive Committee opened at the Palais des Nations on 10 October and will run until 14 October 2022.


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