April 20, 2020: Press release of the Follow-up Committee of the Maghreb Social Forum

Despite the measures taken by the Maghreb states (with the vagueness that persists due to the chaos in Libya), we associations, social movements, trade unions, committed to the dynamics of the Maghreb Social Forum for a democratic and inclusive Maghreb of the peoples, express our strong concern about the fragilities, the lack of social protection, the right of access to health services, the obligation of states to protect the lives of citizens. The pandemic has brought to light the tragic reality of the policies and choices of the Maghreb states, which we have constantly denounced.

We have never ceased to call with all our strength on our States to respect the economic and social rights of peoples, to respect human rights and to implement collective and complementary policies enabling peoples, particularly the most disadvantaged, to enjoy social protection, the right of access to health, decent housing, social justice and democracy.

We are even more concerned about the situation of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who are a component of our societies.

In the face of this tragic situation, which risks being out of control if strong and courageous measures are not taken, we ask and call on our states to:

– Communicate in a transparent manner about migrants in each country and particularly on their health situation in this period of pandemic;
– Urgently close the various detention centres (formal or informal) for undocumented migrants in the North and South of the Mediterranean;
– Launch, jointly and in a concerted manner, at the level of the Maghreb States, a Maghreb initiative, declined at the national level in order to establish a climate of confidence, reassure these migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking populations and formalize their care, so that their right to health, on the same basis as nationals, is guaranteed;
– Take courageous measures and historical responsibility for an exceptional operation to regularize migrants present on Maghreb territory. This political and humanitarian measure will respond to the various appeals from Maghrebian human rights organisations and to the concerns expressed for several years and on several occasions by the social partners regarding the precariousness and exploitation of workers in an irregular administrative situation in the Maghreb;
– Pay attention to the fate of minors and isolated migrant women who are prey to human traffickers;
– Put in place the various mechanisms for the protection of persons in danger provided for under international humanitarian law;
– Establish equal access with nationals to health care and to the various provisions of labour law.
– Provide decent housing for all homeless migrants
– Ensure that migrants benefit from financial support measures on the same footing as nationals;
– Set up an information and support platform specifically for migrants.
– Allow incarcerated migrants to benefit from the release measures taken by some Maghreb countries. Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants live and work alongside us and within our families, it is our duty to support them. Maghreb civil society is deploying magnificent support initiatives, but states must assume their responsibilities.

It is the duty and obligation of states to guarantee and respect the right of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to health and social protection.

See the press release here.