WITHIN 60 days alone, more than four million Filipinos were displaced by various calamities that hit the country, according to an international relief agency.
Bernard Kerblat, country representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Philippines said from September 9 to 8 November, a total of 14 crises led to the displacement of more than 4.7 million Filipinos.
“More than 4 million people were forced by typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan] to leave
their homes, on top of other disasters that struck the country in recent months,” he added.
With the large number of displaced people, Kerblat called for an enactment of a national legislation upholding the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Philippines.
“This underlines the need for a specific law that addresses the critical vulnerabilities and protection concerns of IDPs,” said Kerblat adding that if enacted, this will be the first of its kind in Asia-Pacific.
The UNHCR in February last year lauded the Philippine Congress for adopting a legislation espousing the right of IDPs to protection and assistance but it was vetoed in May.
The agency has welcomed fresh efforts in the legislature to revive the bill.
“The frequent advent of disasters in this country shows the necessity for a legislative framework to uphold the rights of IDPs. We also hope that once passed, this legislation will serve as a model for other countries in the region facing similar issues of forced displacement,” added Kerblat.
Super typhoon Yolanda is just the last one in a series of crises that struck the country in recent months.
Others include the 7.2 magnitude Bohol earthquake, typhoon Santi, typhoon Odette and three episodes of heavy rains linked to Intertropical Convergence Zones, as well as situations of armed conflict between the government and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels in Zamboanga City. RITCHIE A. HORARIO