Arab League urges world to recognize, protect migrants

Arab League urges world to recognize, protect migrants
Migrants carry a smuggling boat on their shoulders as they prepare to embark on the beach of Gravelines, northern France, in an attempt to cross the English Channel. (AFP/File)
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Updated 19 December 2022

Arab League urges world to recognize, protect migrants

Arab League urges world to recognize, protect migrants
  • Respect for human rights key, says regional body
  • Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia on the rise

CAIRO: The Arab League has urged countries around the world to recognize the value of immigrants but also tackle issues that result in the exploitation of people fleeing conflict and other disasters.

To mark International Migrants Day, held on Dec. 18 every year, the league said in a statement that many migrants contribute positively to the economies of the countries where they live.

The league added that issues around migration and refugees have increasingly become the focus of world leaders over the past decade. These topics were discussed at the International Migration Review Forum held in May 2022, which was based on the adoption of resolutions in 2018 under the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”

The league highlighted in its statement that migrants had faced several major challenges over the past three years including the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, and an increase in racism, discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia.

In addition to the risks that migrants face, they are also vulnerable to human traffickers, who keep them trapped for extended periods at borders or at sea.

The league highlighted the importance of the Algiers Declaration issued by the 31st Ordinary Arab Summit in November 2022, that saw member states commit to tackling Islamophobia and promoting tolerance and respect.

With regard to the recurring incidents of migrants becoming stranded on rescue ships in the Mediterranean, the Arab League said cases must be addressed based on several criteria, including whether they are unaccompanied children and women.

The league said all nations must respect the UN’s international conventions on human rights, which means rescuing the stranded people and providing them with adequate food and shelter.

Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, the Arab League’s assistant secretary-general and head of the body’s social affairs sector, said joint and coordinated action was urgently needed to save lives and counter all forms of discrimination.

According to the UN, migrants and displaced persons are among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in society, although they have proven to be a source of prosperity, innovation, and sustainable development in their own and host countries.

According to estimates by the International Organization for Migration, more than 35,000 migrants have died or disappeared since 2014. While there are no exact figures on the proportion of enforced disappearances in these cases, the information available indicates that most disappearances occur during detention or deportation, or as a result of smuggling.

According to information published on the UN website on Oct. 25, 2022, the International Organization for Migration has documented the deaths of at least 5,684 people along migration routes to and within Europe since the beginning of 2021, and it has called on countries in Europe and elsewhere to take immediate and concrete steps to save lives and reduce deaths during migration journeys.