European leaders have rightly spoken out against President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on refugees and immigration, but their comments also show a large amount of hypocrisy in the face of Europe’s own flawed migration response, Oxfam said today. At their informal meeting in Malta this Friday, EU heads of state and government are talking about further abandoning the rights of migrants, including refugees. Plans to cooperate more closely with Libya are a deliberate outsourcing of migration control to the conflict-riven country where migrants are at great risk of abuse and even death.
Oxfam International’s Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, Natalia Alonso, said:
“EU member states must put the rights, the safety and the dignity of people at the forefront of any plans to cooperate more closely with Libya. A deal that aims to above all else stop migrants from entering Europe is both dangerous and runs counter to Europe’s core values.
“Migrants are experiencing horrific abuses in Libya. People who have managed to escape that hell have regularly told us about the trauma and physical violence they have experienced, including starvation, beatings, and burnings.
“The EU should indeed work on improving the dire situation in Libya – but with the aim of helping people in need. In their haste, European leaders are throwing money at authorities in war-torn Libya without the necessary checks and balances. It is time they stopped leading by fear and instead by the values of justice and humanity.”
As they meet on Friday to discuss how to manage migration from Libya and other African states, Oxfam calls for EU heads of state and government to go beyond lip service and manage migration with full respect for human rights and upon a foundation of concern for the safety of people. Governments must protect migrants, grant international protection to refugees and promote safe and regular channels for migration.
Oxfam is calling for an EU migration management plan that:
- Delivers development aid for the sole purpose of poverty reduction. Under no circumstances should development aid be used to restrict mobility, as this may even work counter to the aim of reducing poverty.
- Ensures cooperation on border control is contingent upon demonstrated respect for human rights, mobility principles, and the rights of asylum-seekers.
- Includes credible monitoring schemes to ensure the implementation is in line with international law. If this is not possible, no deal should be agreed.
Notes to editors
- Spokespeople for interviews in Brussels are available.
- Oxfam is working with migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. Their testimonies are documented in the report ‘Hotspots – Rights denied’ (pages 31-34).
- Ahead of the October EU summit, Oxfam has published the media briefing paper “Causing suffering and problems - Europe’s approach to migration”, detailing the various failures of the EU’s migration response.