Our role in humanity (2)
RECENTLY, we accepted the Rohingya minorities fleeing Burma, the first country to offer shelter after other Southeast Asian neighbors blocked them from entering.
“The Philippines has extended humanitarian assistance to Vietnamese ‘boat people’ and we shall continue to do our share in saving lives,” says Communications Secretary Malacanang Herminio Coloma.
Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon pointed out that the Philippines has a long history of helping migrants. Aside from the Jews escaping the Holocaust in 1940, we also admitted White Russians in 1923, Chinese refugees fleeing communism in 1949, and Spanish Republicans in 1939.
Today, a similar situation challenges the rest of the civilized world.
Europe in particular, is handling the crisis with mixed reactions.
Are they going to accept the thousands of asylum seekers fleeing the war in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Nigeria, Kosovo, and sub-Saharan countries?
Citing history, morality, and economics, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union’s top executive, urged the bloc to set aside deep divisions over welcoming refugees from war-torn and povertystricken nations in the Middle East and Africa and forge a stronger and more unified response.
Alluding to the barrier being built by Hungary to stem the flow of migrants, he said: “We can build walls, we can build fences. But imagine for a second it were you, your child in your arms, the world you knew torn apart around you. There is no price you would not pay, there is no wall you would not climb, no sea you would not sail, no border you would not cross, if it is war or the barbarism of the so-called Islamic State you are fleeing.”
We can do no less. We led the world in compassion 75 years ago and there’s no reason that we can’t do it again today.
Remember that deathless prose adorning the base of the Statue of Liberty? “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempesttossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”