WE agree with Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon–let’s open a refugee center in our country.
Like us, Mr. Gordon feels that the Philippines “should not turn its back to the migrants who are escaping from wars in the Middle East and should instead accept refugees.”
Mr. Gordon’s proposal is for our refugee center “to process applications of refugees who want to enter Europe.”
Gordon’s proposal follows the European leaders’ recognition of the fact 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 body smugglers or take dangerous attempts to flee from poverty and persecution in their war-torn countries.”
The leaders of Europe are searching for solutions as armed conflicts in mainly Syria and Iraq unceasingly send hundreds of thousands of refugees on dangerous voyages through the Balkans and across the Mediterranean to the 28-nation European Union.
“The heart-rending photo of a toddler washed offshore in Turkey presents a graphic picture of an ever worsening humanitarian crisis in Europe. The toddler drowned while the family was fleeing to Europe away from Syria. A number of migrants drowned, perished in the sea, some suffocated while traveling on lorries. Europe is now facing a very serious humanitarian crisis,” Gordon has been quoted as saying.
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; White Russians in 1923; Chinese refugees fleeing communism in 1949, and Spanish Republicans in 1939. We also welcomed Vietnamese refugees, the original “boat people,” who sailed to the Philippine seeking safety and a future at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. We opened a refugee for the Vietnamese in Bataan and Palawan.
As we have said in other editorials about helping the refugees and others in need, we must be actively in solidarity with the rest of mankind. And we must not be so petty-minded as to agree with some of our fellow Filipinos who want our attention and faculties for compassion to be directed solely to the many who are poor and suffering here in our own archipelago.
We repeat: that point of view – “worry about our own problems before worrying about others” — is wrong. It runs against the compassion we believe most of our countrymen as Filipinos and people of faith strive to uphold, however imperfectly. We live in a different country, but we live on the same planet.
The problem of people forced out of their homes by war and despotic rulers, left with no choice but to make a dangerous and all too often deadly trek to an uncertain future in search of a place where they can find a little safety and dignity is not a “Syrian problem,” or a “European problem,” or a “Muslim problem,” it is a human problem.
Our sense of humanity demands that we respond positively and help them who are in need.