Ambassador Evan P. Garcia, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva,
delivers the Philippine Statement at the UNHCR Executive Session at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
06 October 2021, Geneva, Switzerland – Permanent Representative Evan P. Garcia, during the UNHCR 72nd Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Program, expressed solidarity with the international community in better protecting and assisting refugees, asylum seekers, stateless and displaced persons, and other persons of concern.
“The pandemic in the past two years has been a test of basic humanity, and the commitment of all the world to the pledge of leaving no one behind,” Ambassador Garcia said. “We believe that burden and responsibility sharing means compelling actions that are beyond comfort zones, beyond stop-gaps, beyond token measures.”
The Philippines, whose humanitarian policies are among the most progressive countries in Asia, highlighted the country’s resolve to extend assistance to refugees during public health emergencies. “The Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit under the Department of Justice plays a critical role in the whole-of-government approach, coordinating policy-making and implementation,” Ambassador Garcia noted.
Assistance for Afghans and Rohingyas
The Philippines has traditionally been a safe-haven for the most vulnerable, and the country has gained a reputation of helping persecuted populations, including Jews during the Second World War and Vietnamese in the 1960s. During this year’s 76th UN General Assembly, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte committed to assist Afghans and Rohingyas.
“Without hesitation, we opened our doors to Afghan nationals, including women and children,” Ambassador Garcia said, repeating the Philippines’ pledge to help Afghanistan. “We are designing a pilot Complementary Pathways program that can help a specific number of Rohingyas.”
Tackling Climate Change
The Philippines responded to the call of High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi to urgently address and prevent climate-induced displacement. In a lead-up to the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, the Philippines urged countries to recognize and promote climate justice, uphold the principles of common by differentiated responsibility, and recognize the impact of climate change on the humanitarian condition and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights.
“Climate change has heightened vulnerabilities and driven waves of internal and cross-border displacement,” Ambassador Garcia asserted. He then urged for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and disaster resilience as a way to address this challenge. “We have forged partnerships in this regard with the UNHCR and other UN organizations on pilot projects, from prevention, to addressing displacement, to recovery and Building Back Better.”
Partnership with UNHCR
The Philippines acknowledged the work of the UNHCR in the Philippines. Ambassador Garcia said “we call on the international community to ensure that the UNHCR has the resource and mandate to carry on with its humanitarian work.”
The Philippines also paid tribute to humanitarian frontliners in all parts of the globe, many of whom are Filipinos. “Despite threats to their personal well-being and security, and tests of their resilience, tenacity, and dedication, they carry on, bringing the light and hope of all humanity to our brethren in most trying circumstances.” END.