News about attacks targeting migrants and refugees from or in the Arab region is almost continuous. In addition to reports indicating discriminatory practices against people fleeing Ukraine, specifically people of color, we have received several reports about discriminatory practices against people in or from the Arab region. In May, in Lebanon’s West Bekaa, a Syrian refugee woman and her family were attacked and beaten. End of June, 12 African workers were injured in a shooting in Libya. End of July, a 16-year-old Syrian child was beaten to death in the south of Lebanon after a disagreement between him and a Lebanese child. On August 30, Mazen Adam, a 15-year-old Sudanese child was threatened with murder and tortured by an armed man in Wirshiffana, Libya. The child appeared naked in a dark room where the perpetrator was beating him with a plastic tube all over his body, asking for 5,000 Libyan dinars to release him.
We, at the Migration and Refugee Forum for the Arab World (MARFA), condemn these crimes and specifically call on the Libyan authorities to open an investigation and move swiftly to ensure Mazen’s release, apprehend the perpetrator and hold him accountable for his behavior.
We also denounce Turkey’s increasing use of hate speech against Syrian refugees, of threats to deport them, and use of the refugees issue by the ruling party as well as the opposition parties for political gains.
We are equally distressed by Lebanon’s persistence to deport Syrian refugees despite international calls for revoking this plan.
In Europe, there are more and more racist and extreme-right calls for the refoulment of Syrians; for example, and refugees can be repatriated, and in the UK, the government is working on sending asylum seekers to Africa.
Additionally, international support for refugees in Syria’s neighboring countries and the region is decreasing, which is amplifying challenges faced by host countries and refugees and threatening social cohesion. This pushes many refugees to consider seeking asylum in other countries with more safety and stability, which makes them run the risk of falling prey to exploitation and human trafficking.
In view of the situation, we urge joint work and more international support for refugees and host countries. We call on UNHCR to urgently call for economic support for refugees, and on the Arab League to provide humanitarian aid mechanisms for countries most affected economically, such as Lebanon.
We call on relevant authorities in Arab countries and the international community to honestly review the reality of refugees and migrants in the Arab region, Europe, and other places.
We demand immediate action to end the hideous crimes against refugees, protect them and ensure their mental and physical safety, and end all forms of discrimination, exploitation, oppression, and abuse of refugees, including of the widely practiced extortion and detention for ransom or forced free labor.
We call on parties signatories to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, on host and transit countries to activate procedures prohibiting, combating, and punishing all forms of racial discrimination, particularly xenophobia and hate speech against those fleeing conflict.
We call for action to protect everyone from violence, especially based on race, and inflammatory hate speech on social and traditional media, and condemn and reject hate speech used by social influencers and politicians in the media.
Finally, we stress the rights of refugees and migrants, regardless of their status, to seek and enjoy protection. International law grants them the right to life, and freedom from torture and refoulment. Combating crimes, including those driven by discrimination, should be part of all governments’ policies. People’s rights, refugees’ included, must never be encroached upon, not even in emergencies.
The Migration and Refugee Forum for the Arab World (MARFA) is an independent network of Arab academics, human rights activists and lawyers established in response to the crucial need for collective work to advocate for the rights of refugees and migrants, and raise awareness about issues they face, such as statelessness, life in diaspora, and discriminatory practices against them.