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Philippines extends “malasakit” for Rohingya

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UNHCR welcomes the Philippine government’s continued solidarity and pledge of support for the Rohingya refugee response, as announced by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. during the Virtual Donor Conference.

23 Oct 2020

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, extends its appreciation and gratitude to the Government of the Philippines for its generous donation of US$100,000 to provide life-saving assistance to Rohingya refugees in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The financial contribution was announced by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. in his statement at the Virtual Donor Conference on Sustaining Support for the Rohingya Refugee Response on 22 October.

UNHCR also lauds the Philippines’ continued commitment to accepting refugees, which Sec. Locsin described as an obligation rooted in malasakit, a Filipino term that he defined to mean “caring to the point of sharing the pain” and an “unbridled concern for the wellbeing of others”.

Sec. Locsin said that malasakit should be the response to the “recurring scenario of being driven away from one’s home because of strife, violence, and persecution.”

He also reiterated earlier statements made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte affirming that the country’s doors would be open to everyone fleeing for safety, including the Rohingya.

“Together with the rest of ASEAN, we will continue to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations, including through the UNHCR and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance,” Sec. Locsin said.

The Philippines has a strong tradition of welcoming refugees, even prior to becoming a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. Since the end of World War I, the country has hosted nine waves of refugees and has pledged to enhance its policy, legal and operational framework in support of refugees during the Global Refugee Forum in 2019.

Among the other governments to participate in the Virtual Donor Conference on Sustaining Support for the Rohingya Refugee Response are Australia, Bangladesh, Finland, France, Norway, and Switzerland. The event was organized by representatives of the United States of America, the European Commission, the United Kingdom, and UNHCR.

Read the full statement of Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.