Beginning on Friday, the Arab League addressed migrants and economics, relations between nations, and border control. The main focus of the Arab League centralized on whether the migrants would be allowed into the countries, how the migrants will be treated and screened once arriving in their new country, and how the migrants will impact the nations they leave and migrate to.
During an unmoderated caucus, a group immediately formed around Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait. The UAE delegate, Wyatt Ren, insisted that all the countries needed improvement. Egypt suggested that governments need to monitor how the migrants impact the economy. Kuwait said the countries that the migrants are leaving need stability; they need to be a place citizens want to stay. On the other hand, Kuwait’s delegate Ana Beatriz Soto asserted that migrants take jobs, so the countries need to be rebuilt to create jobs. Egypt’s Nadya Ponthempilly suggested stopping the incoming migrants at their source. She did acknowledge the Arab League could not send all of the migrants back.
Migrants and Economics
Removing all migrants would harm the economy because a migrant worker earns wages and then spends most of the wages in the host country, therefore boosting the host economy. The UAE also relies on the migrant workforce by promoting policies and reforms as it strives to make migrant working more humane. Qatar, another country with a high migrant population, is seeking to seek establish better labor laws, by implementing ideas such as minimum wage. Even though Qatar has a large migrant population, it incorporates them into the workforce and boasts an .1% unemployment rate. Kuwait brought in migrant workers to man the oil fields; the country has brought in so many migrants that as of 2017, they made up 70% of the total population.
Morocco offered an opposing side of the conversation stating that migrants are not beneficial to the economy. There are no jobs for the migrants, so the people cannot support themselves and just harm the developing economy. Egypt opposed total integration saying there is often conflict between migrant workers and natives. While Morocco and Egypt did not want to deter all migration, they brought up important points regarding challenges faced by migrants and countries looking to accept these migrants.
Proper functional infrastructure within the host countries is vital for success of a migration solution; the migration process must be streamlined. Lack of formal jobs creates a lack of social security. The UAE said it hosts generous policies in regards to giving money to other countries in region and it supports development in sub-Saharan security policies. Qatar has a modern infrastructure so it requires migrants and careers for those migrants. In contrast to most other countries’ beliefs, Qatar wants the migrants to then bring the skills back to their home country.
The delegates believe that border control should be used to assess and categorize migrants. The control does not need to be severe, as severe control will only agitate migrant/naive relations. Soto said the issue should be addressed “from the perspective of a migrant in order to come up with the most adequate and innovative resolution.” Border control often creates human rights violations, but it does not have to be that way. If the Arab League as a whole oversees border control, it can be regulated. Egypt took particular interest in border control because it receives many migrants from bordering countries. Border control needs to stop migrants at the source. There should be a regulation system, monitored to ensure it is humane. There needs to be refuge assurance to those who deserve it. Border control needs to be an effort from every country, or it will not work for any country. Exactly how the countries would work together was not debated.
The UAE proposed potential reforms for current laws and systems. Ren said the UAE currently has sponsorship systems and visas, but the system is flawed and holds little regard to human rights. Ren explained “Egypt, Morocco and [the UAE] are focusing on reforming practices in host countries when migrants arrive.”
Kuwait said there should be collaboration between countries; funds should be pooled. Soto suggested the countries that refuse to accept migrants should have to pay more. UAE’s Ren continued, saying it needs to be “safer and easier for migrants to find stability and work in the Arab and African states…”
By Friday’s end, there was a plan to form a solution. Qatar explained how all the blocs were working together in groups and “focusing on how to fix the situation… by supporting the countries where [migrants] come from.” The first group was led by Kuwait with the purpose of improving infrastructure. The second group was headed by Qatar, Palestine, and Syria with the purpose to improve the migrant’s journey. Group three, the UAE, Egypt, and Morocco, addressed what will happen when refugees arrive. The first group would focus “on how to help [...] migrants along their route by instituting sanctuary cities.” Kuwait commented on that first group saying its goal was “ensuring stability in sub-Saharan nations.” The second group wants to ensure that “the journey is safe and secure,” while the third was to “to assure proper inclusion once they arrive at their destination.” As the Arab league seemed to come closer to a solution for the migrant crisis, populist uprisings and possible extremist outbreaks delayed the discussion. The delegates will need to find common ground, or the fate of the migrants will not be determined any time soon.