Manila to accept boat people rejected by Malaysia and Indonesia, a decision backed by the Church
The Filipino government is preparing to take in at least 3,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants adrift in the seas of Southeast Asia. The local church supports the move because "it is our duty to welcome these people." CSW activists call “for a humane and just solution to the refugee crisis” in the Andaman Sea and the Mediterranean.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Filipino authorities plan to take in at least 3,000 boat people drifting in the sea. They include ethnic Rohingya, a Muslim minority fleeing persecution in Myanmar, and migrant workers from Bangladesh, rejected by other Southeast Asian countries.

The Filipino Catholic Church has expressed its support for the government’s position. In fact, it has advocated a policy of openness and hospitality towards these people, unlike Indonesia and Malaysia, which have opted for rejection.

This morning, during the Holy Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis also mentioned the tragic fate that has befallen the Rohingya, as well as Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, all forced to abandon their homes because of violence and conflict.

Herminio Coloma, secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, said that Manila, as a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CRSR), is committed to helping "people displaced against their will, because of conflicts".

He went on to say that his country would continue to do its part "to save lives", as it did in the 1970s when it admitted Vietnamese boat people fleeing war.

The Filipino Catholic Church is grateful to the government for its decision to open the country’s borders to a desperate group of people, thousands of boat people who have sailed the seas of Southeast Asia in recent weeks, prey to unscrupulous traffickers, in search of a port of call or a safe place to land.

The director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Philippines, Fr Socrates Mesiona, explained that "it is our duty to accept these people" and guarantee them "a dignified life".

He added that the fact that they are Muslims "is not a problem" and "does not change the state of things" because the primary duty, as the Gospel teaches, is to offer hospitality and share.

As Southeast Asian nations try to find a common solution, more and more human rights international groups are calling for action in favour of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants abandoned in the open sea.

Activists with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told AsiaNews that they support the idea of ​​ European Union foreign ministers meeting to address the migrants issue not only in the Mediterranean, but also in the Andaman Sea.

CSW chief executive Mervyn Thomas has called on the governments of Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, as well as ASEAN, “to work for a humane and just solution to the refugee crisis”.