PHILIPPINE Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Richard Gordon has proposed the creation of a refugee center in the country that will serve as temporary home to migrants displaced by conflict in the Middle East.
Gordon noted that the Philippines should not turn its back on the refugees and should accept them.
In his September 7 Facebook post prompted by a photo of a toddler washed offshore in Turkey, Gordon pointed out that a refugee center could be opened in the country to process applications of refugees who want to enter Europe.
“We, as a country, must do our share and offer refuge to the families now seeking sanctuary in Europe. We must not turn our backs against migrants and show the world that we carry our load. We can open a refugee center to process these refugees who want to enter Europe,” he said.
Gordon’s proposal came as European leaders recognized that the current wave of migration is not a one-time incident but the beginning of a real exodus as thousands of people are forced to turn to smugglers or take dangerous attempts to escape poverty and persecution in their war-torn countries.
European leaders are scrambling for solutions as armed conflicts in mainly Syria and Iraq sent hundreds of thousands of refugees on dangerous voyages through the Balkans and across the Mediterranean to the 28-nation European Union for many of the refugees – at the cost of their lives.
Gordon pointed out that the Philippines has a long history of helping migrants. In the 1940s, the Philippines saved the lives of Jews from the Holocaust in Germany; Russians in 1923; Chinese refugees fleeing communism in 1949, and Spanish Republicans in 1939. Vietnamese refugees also sought refuge in the Philippines at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.
The Philippines also took in Indo-Chinese refugees in 1980, and Gordon said the Chinese came here not just to do business, but to escape persecution and oppression in China.
“If we did it for the Jews and other races, why can’t we do it for other races like the Syrians or for other religions like Muslims who are being persecuted in their own countries?” Gordon said.