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RP to allow emergency transit of refugees

Written By vibykhmer on Thursday, August 27, 2009 | 6:45 PM


August 27, 2009

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippines will allow refugees at risk to stay pending their resettlement in a third country under an agreement signed Thursday.

The Philippines has hosted some 500,000 refugees, mostly from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, over the past four decades.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo signed the Memorandum of Agreement on the Emergency Transit of Refugees to assure better protection for refugees and address emergency resettlement situations, according to a statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The agreement provides a legal framework for the transit of refugees at risk, allowing them to be evacuated to the Philippines quickly before they are resettled elsewhere, department spokesman Ed Malaya said.

Camps and processing centers for Indochinese refugees were closed in 1996, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. The Philippines is considering opening a refugee transit center, although its location and other details have yet to be agreed on, Malaya said.

Romulo signed the agreement with representatives of the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration.

The Philippines ratified the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and has a long-standing commitment to assist the UNHCR in addressing the plight of refugees.

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