De Lima: Let’s send rescue ships for refugees stranded at sea | Global News
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De Lima: Let’s send rescue ships for refugees stranded at sea

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:06 PM May 19, 2015
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima  INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima proposed on Tuesday that the Philippines and fellow member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian countries, for humanitarian reasons, send rescue ships to help boat people” still stranded in the seas and thus save more lives.

De Lima met for an about an hour at the DOJ office in Manila with Bernard Kerblat, United Nations High Commission on Refugees representative to the Philippines, to discuss the growing concerns in Southeast Asia about droves of people fleeing Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar).

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“It would be a good gesture if we also send a rescue ship or two along with other Asean neighbors and it should be a concerted effort, a regional action,” De Lima said.

“I think humanitarian consideration should transcend any other considerations. First thing’s first, [let’s] save lives,” she added.

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For his part, Kerblat described the plight of the boat people “a serious crisis” that Southeast Asian countries needed to attend to.

“People [are] stuck in the high seas, some of them are already lost, some about to be lost. This is a very serious matter. [It’s a] regional crisis,” he told reporters.

Kerblat said UNHCR officials have been appealing to governments in Southeast Asia to make a collective response to the crisis.

“Basically [what] we’re doing with the various governments in the region is to look in at ways and means to put together ideas and the basic message here is: what can be done collectively to try to save lives. It’s not an easy matter, it’s very complex,” he said.

Kerblat also said the UNHCR was thankful for the Philippines’ “principled position” that the country would remain committed to international conventions on receiving and protecting asylum-seekers.

De Lima had said that the Philippines was ready to shelter and protect the “boat people should they come to the country’s shores.

According to De Lima, the Philippines has the obligation to admit and protect asylum seekers as the country is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

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“A process is in place to accord the protection of the Philippine government to genuine asylum seekers,” De Lima said in a statement.

De Lima said the Philippines would share its best practices, approaches and experiences in the management of refugees and asylum seekers. SFM/AC

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TAGS: Association of Southeast Asian Nations, asylum seekers, Bangladesh, Bernard Kerblat, Burma, Department of Justice, Global Nation, Leila de Lima, Myanmar, Philippine government, Philippines, refugees, rescue ships, Rohingyas, United Nations High Commission on Refugees
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