Oxfam reaction to Europe’s response to the Arab Spring, two years on

In reaction to the 2013 European Neighborhood Policy Package, put forward today by European Commissioner Stefan Füle, the Head of Oxfam EU Office, Natalia Alonso, said:

“Oxfam welcomes the support that the EU has given to countries going through democratic transition in North Africa over the past two years. However, it is now time for Europe to step up its efforts to make it clear that governments cannot steer away from respecting human rights and promoting democracy, whilst ensuring that the poorest are not forgotten during these tough times of transition.

“The EU must now do more to ensure that civil society has the space to carry out their crucial role of holding governments to account and promoting human rights. The current situation in Egypt, where the government is actively trying to suppress civil society voices, is particularly worrying, and must be urgently addressed.

“What’s more, if the EU is serious about supporting freedom and democracy in Arab Spring countries, it must take a bold stand for women’s rights, and put them at the heart of all future debates on EU-North Africa relations. Women have indeed played a strong role in the revolutions and should not be shut out now that their countries are going through transformation processes.”

Notes to Editors

  • As recently highlighted by a report of the Women’s Rights Committee of the European Parliament, published last month, women were very much involved in the Arab Spring revolutions in North Africa but are now paying a high price with escalating intimidations and violence over the past months. In Egypt, at least 19 cases of group sexual assault against women, including rape, were reported on 25 January, in the midst of large demonstrations for the second anniversary of the revolution.
  • Read the European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2013 on the situation in Egypt, including the controversial EU’s ‘more for more’ approach (more aid for more reform). Oxfam believes that without genuine dialogue between civil society and a legitimate government, the EU’s “more for more” concept will not succeed.
Contact information: 

Angela Corbalan on angela.corbalan@oxfaminternational.org or +32 473 56 22 60