Press Release
September 3, 2015


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero is calling on members of the European Union (EU) to step their efforts in providing aid to refugees as the world grapples with the highest number of displaced people to date.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 59.5 million people were forced to flee their homes at the end of 2014 due to wars, conflicts and persecutions. The UN agency said this is the highest that has ever been recorded and is accelerating fast.

"The harrowing truth that is presented to us everyday about the plight of these people is discomfiting--to an ordinary person who only sees it on the news, but more so to the countries where these vulnerable groups try to run to," Escudero said.

The UNHCR report shows that since war erupted in Syria in 2011, it produced the world's highest pool of internally displaced people at 7.6 million and refugees reaching 3.88 million at the end of 2014.

The UN identifies as refugees those who fled their home country because of war or persecution. Internally displaced are people who remained in their country of origin but were forced to flee their homes.

The journey of the refugees seeking asylum proved lethal for many as death tolls arise while crossing the Mediterranean Seas and lands to reach European grounds. Reports said this year alone, about 2,500 people perished while fleeing to Europe.

In April this year, 850 migrants drowned when their overloaded boat capsized in the Mediterranean. Last week, 71 dead bodies believed to be migrants from Syria were found abandoned inside a truck in Austria. In the same week in Libya, 84 people have drowned when their boats capsized just after taking off. Authorities believed most of the victims fell prey to human traffickers in a desperate move to leave their countries.

"No one should live this way. They are fleeing atrocities from their homes in search of safer haven only to relive the horrors of their stories along the way. Their human suffering is too much, and nations must put out their hands together in solidarity to help these people.

"This global phenomenon is testing every nation's response not only to its international obligation, but more so to its humanitarian and compassionate character," said Escudero, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

He said the world has higher faith in wealthier EU nations to device a collective and solid cooperation to organize a response, but added that no single nation is too small or too big enough to help.

"The Philippines is a small and humble nation when it opened its doors wide to thousands of refugees in the 1930s until the late 90s. We received Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War. We are even prepared to receive the Rohingyans who were stranded in the seas this year. No nation should just be a bystander in the face of this human emergency crisis," Escudero said.

The spike in the number of people forced to flee their homes was caused by at least 15 conflicts that have either erupted or reignited in the past five years. Eight were recorded in Africa, three in the Middle East, one in Europe and three in Asia.

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