Press Release
August 25, 2021

Hontiveros: Expedite entry of Afghan women and children fleeing the Taliban

Senator Risa Hontiveros has called on the Executive branch to expedite the entry of Afghan women and children fleeing the Taliban, amid the Philippines's commitment to accept refugees from the war-torn country.

"Women and children often pay the price of senseless wars. The tragedy has left the whole world stunned, but we cannot be paralyzed into inaction. Bigyang prayoridad na sana ng Executive na matulungan ang mga kababaihan at kabataang naghahanap ng masisilungan. Ipakita natin sa buong mundo na laging handang mag-aruga ang mga Pilipino," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 881, highlighting that women and children make up 80% of the displaced persons in Afghanistan this year. The senator said that despite the Taliban's conciliatory tone in its statement regarding the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, the situation on the ground and its actions the past several years do not reflect this.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra had said that if Afghans do seek refuge in the country, the DOJ and the Bureau of Immigration will be managing and accommodating their requests and applications for permanent status of refugees and issuing appropriate documentation.

"I welcome Sec. Guevarra's pronouncement, but we should proactively establish rescue mechanisms and explore channels of support. We should also prioritize women and girls, considering they are the most oppressed under Taliban rule." Hontiveros said.

The senator also said that National Government Agencies must be called to assist the refugees and coordinate for the arrangements for their shelter, provision of crucial and emergency health services, especially to expecting women, and expedite the processing of their visas and other travel documents while keeping in mind the limitations brought by the pandemic.

"The world risks losing a generation of smart, intelligent, and courageous women if the Taliban succeeds in capturing and persecuting them. Let us not shirk our obligations in ensuring that the humanity and dignity of every Afghan woman and child are restored. The Philippines has a strong historical tradition of accepting refugees fleeing persecution. Mula noon hanggang ngayon, napatunayan nating sabik tayong tumulong sa ating kapwa tao — ganitong-ganito ang mga Pilipino," Hontiveros concluded.

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