The Philippines Is Willing to Protect Afghan Refugees
Disclaimer: The photo in the main image was taken on December 8, 2014, showing Afghan refugee girls smile in a camp in Lahore, Pakistan.
As Kabul, the last free city in Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban after the withdrawal of the U.S., things remain uncertain for the Afghan people, many of whom desperately boarded airplanes leaving the country.
But just as Filipinos opened their doors to refugees in the 1920s, the Philippines is once again prepared to welcome refugees and asylum seekers, this time from Afghanistan.
“Since time immemorial, the Philippines has had jurisprudence even before the convention on refugees welcoming asylum seekers,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
“The Supreme Court has said the Philippines will not hesitate to admit individuals fleeing their homelands because of fear of persecution,” he added.
According to the Palace, asylum seekers will always find welcome in the Philippines, especially if they are being persecuted in their own country.
The Philippines has a very long history of protecting refugees.
In 1923, the country became the home of White Russian refugees fleeing persecution. Then, in the 1930s, Jews escaping the Holocaust found refuge in the Philippines, the only country that accepted them openly.
Spaniards also escaped to the Philippines in 1939 during the Spanish Civil War, and then in 1940, tens of thousands of Chinese who were running away from the Communist rule fled to Manila, where they established the roots of what is now the prominent Filipino-Chinese community.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, the Philippines embraced thousands of refugees coming from Vietnam, Timor-Leste, and Iran.
In 2020, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) commended the Philippines for its commitment to protecting Rohingya refugees. The Philippines was the only country in Southeast Asia that pledged to accept and protect the persecuted Rohingyas in Asia. The Rohingyas are a stateless, predominantly Muslim Indo-Aryan ethnic group who live in Myanmar.
“The doors of the Philippines are open, as they have always been, to everyone fleeing for safety, such as the Rohingyas,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in September 2020.