Filipino Migrant Shares His Libyan Experiences at Major Humanitarian Meeting

Migration has been identified as one of the key cross-cutting issues that  challenges  the humanitarian system. It was a key theme for consideration at the World Humanitarian Summit regional consultation for North and South-east Asia which took place in Japan this week.

The Philippines is one of the countries which benefits most from migration, so it was hardly a surprise when the organizers of the WHS consultation picked a Filipino to represent the views of migrants at the event in Tokyo.

The person chosen was Cyril Tupaz, an ordinary man with an extraordinary story. Like millions of Filipinos down through the years he decided to find employment overseas, and found himself in Libya in 2007, where he first worked as a chef, and then became a supervisor in a glass and aluminium factory. He enjoyed a good life, with a high salary and respect from the Libyans and foreigners with whom he worked.

When the Gadhafi regime crumbled in 2011 everything changed fast. “It was horrifying and very, very dangerous because of the lawlessness and the militia. There was shooting everywhere and sometimes bombing,” he remembers.

Eventually he decided it was just too perilous, so he got in touch with the embassy and made arrangements to leave. Getting out of Libya was not without hitches, but he finally made it home to his loved ones.

In Tokyo this week he joined senior IOM staff Mohammed Abdiker, director of Operations and  Emergencies for IOM and Asia-Pacific senior advisor Brian Kelly.

Cyril shared his insights on how society treats returning migrants, and made suggestions on how they could be better reintegrated into their home societies on return.

“From our side it was wonderful to have Cyril as part of our delegation to this important regional meeting,” said Mohammed Abdiker. “It is one thing to have so-called ‘experts’ talking at these functions, but quite another to hear first-hand from people who have experienced life-threatening experiences. They are the true experts and we need to learn from them.”