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NEEDS BEING ADDRESSED, SAYS NICA EXEC

Filipino-Palestinian refugees appeal for assistance from PH gov't


Filipino-Palestinian refugees appeal for assistance from PH gov't

The Filipino-Palestinian refugees on Thursday are calling for assistance after the Philippine government allegedly stopped its help after their repatriation from Gaza.

One of the refugees, Adelina Wady told GMA News Online that they requested a shelter from the Philippine government before they agreed to be repatriated because they belong to a big family.

“No shelter…Hindi kami basta-basta makapag-repatriate kasi we know na maliit lang yung bahay ng family ko and hindi kami kasya doon lahat,” she said.

(A shelter was not provided...We can't just repatriate because we know that my family's house is small and we can't all fit in there.)

“So dapat before nag-repatriate, we make it a point sa [Department of Foreign Affairs] to help us na matulungan sa bahay nga but they failed to do that. The help ends after the repatriation,” she added.

(So before we repatriate, we make it a point to the [Department of Foreign Affairs] to help us for a shelter but they failed to do that. The help ends after the repatriation.)

GMA News Online has sought comment from the DFA about the matter but it has yet to provide a statement as of posting time.

Livelihood, employment, education

Aside from this, Adelina said the refugees also need assistance for their integration to livelihood, employment, and education.

“Education po sa mga children namin. At saka yung livelihood program, work, hanapbuhay kasi hindi naman puwedeng umaasa ka lagi. Actually, ito yung first time namin na totally umaasa sa iba,” she said.

(Education for our children. And then the livelihood program, work, employment because you can't always depend on other people. Actually, this is our first time totally relying on others.)

Adeline has three children, a fourth year college student, a second year college student, and a Grade 10 student. Her Palestinian husband, Riad, is a retired engineer.

Due to what they said is the lack of support from the Philippine government, Adelina said their group of Filipino-Palestinian refugees put up “Gaza kitchen” and bazaars to earn money.

Adelina was one of the beneficiaries during the “Serbisyo Caravan” in Quezon City on Thursday, which was led by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency-National Capital Region (NICA-NCR) with other government agencies.

The caravan invited 68 Filipino-Palestinian refugees or 16 families to receive aid from the government such as medical assistance, livelihood, and employment opportunities.

Needs being addressed

But NICA-NCR deputy director Terence Balitaan told GMA News Online that the government is addressing the needs of the refugees.

“Because of what happened to them, their status, their daily needs pino-provide po ng Quezon City katuwang ang national government. Hindi po natin sila pinapabayaan at ang kanilang pangangailangan is ina-address po natin,” he said

(Because of what happened to them, their status, their daily needs are being provided by Quezon City in partnership with the national government. We are not neglecting them and we are addressing their needs.)

According to him, the integration to livelihood and employment is ongoing for the refugees.

“Kung hindi man sila makabalik agad sa Palestine, at least dito makapagtrabaho sila dahil sanay silang magtrabaho kaya tinutulungan po natin silang maibalik ang status nila, maayos, at small business siguro,” he said.

(If they can't return to Palestine right away, at least they can work here because they are used to working, so we are helping them to restore their status, well, and maybe a small business.)

For education, Balitaan said the local government mentioned that young Filipino-Palestinian refugees can study in Madrassa school in Quezon City.

During the caravan, Balitaan said a seminar against extremism was given to the refugees.

“Kinailangan nila yun dahil ‘di ba sa pinanggalingan nila. At the same time, doon sa extremism, marami din silang sa emotional kailangan i-provide,” Balitaan said.

(They needed that considering where they came from, right? At the same time, they also have a lot of emotional needs that should be provided.)

“At least para din maliwanagan about sa extremism na maaari din silang target as we all know naman merong mga remnant na ibang ideology para huwag na po silang mapunta o maengganyo doon kasi sabi nga may trauma pa sila dahil sa giyera sa bansa nila,” he added.

(At least they are enlightened about extremism that they can also be targeted as we all know there are remnants who have a different ideology so that they don't end up there or be lured there because as they said they still have trauma because of the war in their country.)

Adelina said the refugees are still looking forward to returning to Palestine when the situation becomes peaceful there but they are not rushing.

Ceasefire

As the conflict continues in Gaza, Adeline said they are praying for a peace process and immediate ceasefire.

“We're just praying to have a peace talk, peace process, or immediate ceasefire. Nakikita lang namin sa news. We are really praying na matapos ang gulo dahil kawawa sila doon,” she added.

(We're just praying to have a peace talk, peace process, or immediate ceasefire. We only see it in the news. We are really praying that the chaos there will end because their situation there is really pitiful.)

The first batch of Filipino-Palestinian repatriates arrived in the Philippines in November 2023 amid the conflict in Gaza. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News

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