Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it.
Now I understand 
why the old poets of China went so far
and high 
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.
"The Old Poets of China" by Mary Oliver

The UP Asian Center in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be hosting the webinar via Zoom, “Open Doors: Protection and Humanity Across Borders” on 12 August 2022, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, Philippine Standard Time. The webinar is free and open to the public, but registration and signing in to a (free) Zoom account is required.



Wars, violence, conflict, persecution. Ukraine is at the top of this list with the Russian invasion leading to the largest number ever of civilian casualties, violence against women, and widespread destruction. Millions of Ukrainians have fled the country in search of refuge. The Asian and African continents had also contributed to the deepening global humanitarian crisis. Just last year, the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan has also led to the exodus of thousands of Afghans to neighboring countries. The United Nations described the Rohingyas of Myanmar as “the world's most persecuted minority.” Aggravated further by waves of violence in conflict-ridden countries such as in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is on top of the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. Because of all these, “over one percent of humanity is displaced” (UNHCR).

These are only some of the alarming realities our world is currently experiencing, bringing to our attention the importance of human rights, especially of people of concern. According to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (2022), the response and solutions to these issues cannot anymore keep up with the increasing speed and volume of global displacement. With the humanitarian situation outlook appearing bleak, the international community is then urged to take a more proactive role in peacekeeping and promoting cooperation and community-building towards solving these problems. Hence, as part of concerted efforts to educate and raise awareness regarding these, the UP Asian Center will be holding an introductory webinar on human rights. This activity seeks to equip the public with the basic understanding of human rights concepts as well as existing national and international human rights infrastructures to maintain global peace and harmony. With a special emphasis on human rights issues in Asia, this webinar seeks to provide a platform for the formulation of recommendations to solve and contribute to peacekeeping and community building.


Maria Ermina “Iya” Valdeavilla-Gallardo is currently the Head of the Philippines Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). From 2018 to 2020, she has assumed officer-in-charge functions for the Philippines operations at the request of the Representative in the latter’s absence and had represented UNHCR in the Humanitarian Country Team, UN Country Team and Security Management Team. Prior to joining UNHCR, Iya worked with the Department of Agriculture and a number of law firms in Manila. She has been a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since 2010. She obtained a degree in Speech Communication from the University of the Philippines Diliman, and her Bachelor of Laws from the San Beda College of Law. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Laws degree in the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. Beyond the formal education setting, she has also completed several courses and trainings on refugee protection and statelessness from the Institute of International Humanitarian Law and in Tilburg University, among others.
Atty. Paulito De Jesus concurrently serves as State Counsel IV of the Department of Justice's Legal Staff and Assistant Head of the Department of Justice - Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit. Through his extensive experience with refugee and statelessness work, he has been serving as a resource person for various undertakings both locally and abroad. He has likewise attended numerous trainings abroad. He served as a delegate in refugee and statelessness study missions in Hungary, Spain, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Lately, he participated in the preparatory meeting regarding the High Level Segment on Statelessness and was a delegate to the 2019 Global Refugee Forum. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Atty. De Jesus earned his degree in Political Science at the University of the Philippines Manila and completed his Bachelor of Laws degree in San Beda College, Mendiola Manila.


Atty. Evecar Cruz-Ferrer is currently a law professor at Ateneo de Manila Law School, De La Salle University College of Law, Arellano University School of Law and Polytechnic University of the Philippines Law School, specifically handling Public International Law, Special Issues in International Law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law classes.
From November 2007- 2019, Atty. Ferrer was the Program Coordinator and Legal Adviser of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). She was the lead manager for ICRC projects with the military, police, national authorities and academe. Atty. Cruz is also regularly invited Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) lecturer for international law topics and a consultant on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law for various government agencies.
Atty. Ferrer got his Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She also finished a post graduate diploma in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) from the NALSAR University in Hyderabad, India.


The event is organized by the UP Asian Center and UN High Commissioner for Refugees.


 For inquiries, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
The Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The UP Asian Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. It also offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. For an overview of these graduate programs, click here. As an area studies institution, the Asian Center also publishes Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia, the latest issue of which can be downloaded at the journal's website.