MANILA, Sept 23 (Mabuhay) –Afghan nationals who fled to the Philippines due to the political chaos in their home country are only here temporarily, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday.

Guevarra said there have been no applications with the Department of Justice for the grant of refugee status to Afghan nationals who escaped the Taliban regime.

“Right now we have admitted only a handful, but they are here only for temporary shelter until they are permanently resettled elsewhere,” he said in a message to reporters.

“The Afghan nationals who are here are slated for resettlement in another country. So they need not apply for refugee status in the Philippines.”

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines took in Afghan nationals “including women and kids seeking refuge.”

The Taliban’s return to power, two decades after it was ousted by a United States coalition, has resulted in an exodus of desperate Afghans.

Emboldened by the US government’s withdrawal of American troops, Taliban militants seized the capital Kabul and key areas in less than two weeks in August.

Many feared that the Taliban government would curtail freedom of speech and civil liberties, especially women’s rights.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday (US time), President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines welcomed Afghan nationals “in line with its longstanding humanitarian tradition.”

He also called on the global community “to help the Afghan people and all those who continue to suffer.”

The President also ordered the DOJ “to work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to prepare a cooperation program for a specific number of Rohingyas, consistent with our capacities.”

“The Philippines has limited resources during these extraordinary times. But what we can do for humanity and to uplift human dignity, we will,” he said.(MNS)

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