Nuns in Manila take in Pakistani refugees

July 15, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Manila, July 14, 2016: A religious congregation in Manila has taken in a family of five Catholic refugees who escaped persecution in Pakistan last month.

The family, that includes three children, say they traveled to Manila to escape persecution by the so-called Islamic State supporters in Pakistan.

The family, who asked not to be identified, did not know anybody when they arrived in the Philippines where visa requirements for foreigners are not strict.

“It’s a long story,” said Father Jason Laguerta of the Sacred Heard of Jesus parish in the suburb of Santa Mesa in Manila.

The family took a taxi from the airport and went around the city until they arrived at a convent for nuns.

“The nuns helped the family, gave them food, and a place to stay,” the priest said. “They are also helping them find a job,” he added.

Father Laguerta refused to give details about the whereabouts of the family and the congregation of nuns that is helping them “because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

“They went through the worst persecution but they are showing moral strength now because they witnessed how we accepted, helped, and showed them compassion,” said the priest.

Father Laguerta said the Catholic Church is coordinating with the Philippine government to make it easier for refugees to get work permits and other help.

The Pakistani family will share their experience during a three-day Philippine Congress on New Evangelization that starts July 15 at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

“They will be at the conference to share their experiences,” said Father Laguerta, who also heads the Office for the Promotion of New Evangelization.

He said the plight and experience of the Pakistani family are appropriate with the theme of the conference on the church’s works of mercy and how to put it into action.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila himself “will go deeper into that aspect of our lives as merciful Filipinos,” said Father Laguerta.

He said the story of the refugees is a “good reminder for us Filipinos during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.”

The conference on new evangelization is one of the Vatican’s official activities for the Holy Year of Mercy.

Last year, Cardinal Tagle lamented the absence of adequate concern and assistance for refugees, especially those in Europe.

The Philippines announced in 2015 that it is open to accepting war refugees fleeing conflict-torn countries in the Middle East.

The country is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The Philippines has opened its doors to Vietnamese and Russian refugees, and had even offered to help the Rohingya people, a minority group in Myanmar that has been politically persecuted.

– ucan

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