Oxfam: Migrants and activists pay the price as EU-Arab leaders end summit with empty words

Published: 25th February 2019

Migrants, refugees and activists continue to pay the price with their lives as EU and Arab leaders have failed to deliver concrete action to help people on the move and those exercising their fundamental rights, Oxfam said in response to the first ever EU-Arab League summit that ended today.

"Arab and EU leaders should have agreed on ways to improve the lives of millions of people in both regions, but they have failed to go beyond empty words when addressing important issues like development, prosperity and economic cooperation", said Oxfam's Middle East and North Africa regional director, Marta Lorenzo, today.

"European and Arab leaders should have agreed on ways to save lives and rescue people in the Mediterranean, which has become the deadliest sea in the world. Already more than 200 people have lost their lives in 2019, while thousands more are trapped in inhumane detention conditions in Libya. Governments in Europe and the Arab region have failed to agree on effective measures to ensure that no one is abused, tortured, or left to drown simply because they are a refugee or a migrant", said Oxfam's EU Migration Advisor, Raphael Shilhav

"The summit could also have been a chance to protect and improve the lives of those suffering from the many protracted crises in the Middle East, and for finding solutions to end conflicts in the region and support inclusive development in the Arab region. 

"Instead, it is distressing that the leaders at the summit have not addressed adequately the threats to freedom of expression and assembly, fundamental rights which are under threat in many places in the Arab world. Human rights defenders, especially women, are being detained, tried and are facing the threat of execution - but the EU turns a blind eye on this situation, prioritizing the externalization and securitization of borders over basic human rights,” added Lorenzo.

Notes to editors

Contact information

Nesrine Aly, MENA Regional Media Advisor (based in Amman), 
phone: +962798101179, email: nesrine.aly@oxfam.org

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.