Rappler Talk: Why the PH is a safe haven for refugees


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Rappler Talk: Why the PH is a safe haven for refugees
The Rohingya weren't the first group of refugees to seek asylum in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – When anti-communist refugees known as White Russians were forced to flee China due to the advance of the communist army in 1949, only one country opened its doors to them, the Philippines.

The United Nations refugee agency pays tribute to what it calls the Philippines’ “strong humanitarian tradition” as seen in its experience of welcoming the White Russians in the formal naval base of Tubabao Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

To mark World Refugee Day on June 20, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in the Philippines Bernard Kerblat will deliver a lecture on the White Russians, and 7 other waves of refugees that entered the Philippines since the 1920s. The lecture will be held on June 25Thursday, at the National Museum in Manila.

Rappler gets a preview of Kerblat’s “The Philippines and Asylum, A Historical Perspective” lecture, along with never-before-seen video and photos of the White Russian refugees, courtesy of the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation. Kinna Kwan, the foundation’s senior researcher, tells the story of the grateful refugees who found home and hope in Guiuan.

Kerblat also discusses the Rohingya refugee crisis in Southeast Asia, where the ethnic Muslim minority group flees persecution and discrimination in Myanmar. The UNHCR country head tells Rappler the global trends in displacement in 2014, the year where a record 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict and violence.

World Refugee Day honors the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children forced to flee their homes due to war, human rights abuses, and natural disasters. – Rappler.com

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