PH extends help to Rohingyas in Myanmar's Rakhine state

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2020 12:59 AM

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MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. announced Thursday the Philippines' assistance for refugees from conflict-torn Rakhine state in Myanmar.

In a video message for the Virtual Donor Conference on Sustaining Support for Rohingya Refugee Response, Locsin said the Philippines is contributing $100,000 for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist refugees from Rakhine state.

He also reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of an open door for the Rohingya refugees fleeing the conflict. 

“It is in the same spirit that the Philippines is announcing a modest financial contribution of $100,000 dollars for the UNHCR 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,’” Locsin said. 

Locsin expressed the Philippines’ support for Myanmar’s efforts “to ensure the safe and voluntary return of displaced persons” and “the security and the sustainable and equitable development of all communities in Rakhine state.” 

He added it will support Myanmar and its State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi against “schemes to subdivide her country.”

Myanmar is facing a lawsuit for genocide before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), for the violence against the Rohingyas. 

“The Philippines will also continue to support the Myanmar government’s efforts to ensure the safe and voluntary return of displaced persons, the security and the sustainable and equitable development of all communities in Rakhine state and it will stand by the Myanmar and its Great Lady against the same schemes to subdivide her country like the one that divided Libya for easier exploitation,” Locsin said.

He added the Philippines will continue to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations, along with the UNHCR and the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance.

Besides the Philippines, other international donors also pledged nearly $600 million to support displaced Rohingya, succeeding in bridging a huge gap in funding for hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Britain, the United States and European Union organized the virtual conference along with the United Nations Refugee Agency, aiming to meet a target of $1 billion in funding for 2020, less than half of which had been raised.

The United States, the largest single donor, announced nearly $200 million in new funds while the EU pledged about about $113 million) and Britain about $60 million. A number of other countries also contributed.

"The international community has demonstrated its strong commitment to the humanitarian response with its announcement of funding today totalling $597 million," UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said.

More than 730,000 Rohingya, members of a persecuted Muslim minority, fled Myanmar in 2017 for neighboring Bangladesh following a military crackdown the United Nations has said was carried out with genocidal intent.

Myanmar denies the allegations, saying it was conducting legitimate security operations against insurgents who attacked police posts.

Close to a million Rohingya now live in crowded Bangladesh camps that comprise the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Hundreds of thousands remain in Myanmar's Rakhine state, where they are widely regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and are confined in camps and villages, mostly denied citizenship, free movement and access to healthcare.--With a report from Reuters

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