Unconditional aid and shelter for Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi refugees

Karapatan supports the call for unconditional provision for humanitarian aid and shelter for the Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi refugees and asylum seekers.

We are alarmed at the statements by officials of the Philippine government putting conditions before providing aid to the refugees.  Immigration chief Siegfried Mison said that those without travel documents will be denied entry to the country, while Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said that economic and security concerns will be taken into account. 

There should be no conditions in providing humanitarian aid, and the Philippine government should unequivocally comply with the provisions of 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. There should be no qualms, no ifs, no buts if the Philippine government is genuinely willing to shelter the refugees.

 

Around 6,000 victims of human trafficking in several boats from Myanmar and Bangladesh were left adrift for months by smugglers in Southeast Asian seas. In the recent weeks, they sought refuge in other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The refugees, most of which are Rohingya Muslims, were enticed to travel to Malaysia to find work and better lives.

The Rohingya Muslims are considered as a minority group in the predominantly Buddist Burma, and is also one of the world's most persecuted minorities. Burma’s law denies Rohingyas citizenship, and the Burmese government even denies their existence.

These refugees have been victimized by human traffickers with promises of  better future and shall be victimized again by bureaucratic red-tape should the PH government will insist that travel documents are prerequisites to providing shelter. The lack of identity papers and  travel documents of a refugee may be remedied by the host country, as stated in Articles 27 and 28 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. 

Karapatan also calls on ASEAN member states to comply with international instruments recognizing the rights of refugees.

 

 

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