RP signs MOA on mechanism for refugees transit

August 27, 2009 11:45 am 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Aug. 27 —The Philippines on Thursday signed a landmark agreement on modalities for the transit in the Philippines for refugees, the first formal arrangement of its kind entered into by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alberto G. Romulo signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Raymond Anthony Hall, regional coordinator for Southeast Asia of the UNHCR, and Bruce Reed of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in ceremonies at the DFA in Pasay City.

DFA says that Philippine refugee centers and policy framework towards assisting the UNHCR have been internationally “recognized as models.”

By signing the MOA, the Philippines manifests support for the UNHCR’s work, according to Romulo.

The MOA provides for the possibility of transit in the Philippines and outlines how such refugees will be handled while their onward settlement in a third country is being processed. The MOA thus assures better protection for refugees at risk who can now be evacuated prior to resettlement in a third country, DFA said.

According to the DFA, the MOA on Emergency Transit Mechanism addresses the challenge of emergency resettlement situations which threaten to stretch the capability of the UNHCR and its partners and compromise the well-being of refugees.

The Philippines has served occasionally as a temporary safe haven for refugees and asylum-seekers from Asia and other parts of the globe. This happened with Vietnamese people displaced by the Indochina War of the 1970s and when the late President Manuel Quezon accepted Jews during the Nazi occupation of Europe.

The Philippines is a State Party to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and has a long-standing commitment to assist the UNHCR in addressing the plight of refugees. (PNA)

LAP/GJB

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