Woman at a radio station (Photo by Jeroen van Loon)

Rutgers on the Declaration of Heads of State about the refugee crisis at Valletta Summit

Today the Heads of State and other Ministers of the EU and African countries will present a final declaration on the European refugee crisis. This declaration is the result of the Valletta Summit on Migration (11/12 November) in Malta with the political ambition to offer a concrete solution to the refugee crisis. The final declaration contains the Plan of Action as well as financial resources from the EU Emergency Trust fund. In Rutgers view sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) cannot be absent in the elaboration of the Plan of Action. SRHR must be part of the EU Emergency Trust fund.

logo Valletta SummitWomen who have fled a country or who live in refugee camps often do not have access to contraception in order to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies. No less than 15 % of all pregnancies worldwide result in a life threatening complication. Women who have fled a country or who find themselves in a situation of natural disaster or conflict are at even greater risk of complications. In crisis situations teenagers and young women are more at risk of sexual violence. STIs spread quickly, mainly among young people and in areas struck by poverty, powerlessness and instability.


In the final declaration of the Summit both European and African Heads of State have indicated that they are seriously concerned about the continuously growing stream of refugees and migrants. They point out the grief and trauma, the abuse and the exploitation of refugees and migrants. They keep emphasizing that the protection of human rights of the most vulnerable groups, especially women and children, is key priority. Rutgers cannot but agree with this, but we also want to stress that men can also be victims of (sexual) violence and/or violence against gay men (in situations of conflict). It is known that men who had to deal with violence in situations of conflict, are more at risk of becoming violent (against women) themselves.

Plan of Action

The Plan of Action zooms in on admission of refugees in the region. Central to this is security in the refugee camps and further access to justice, health care and psycho social help. This will be funded by the EU Emergency Trust fund of € 1.8 billion and by promised additional funding from EU countries such as the Netherlands (€ 15 million).

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Rutgers admonishes to incorporate in the elaboration of the Plan of Action the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women, men, girls and boys who live in refugee communities.

Only far from home they can build a new future for themselves and contribute to the community in which they will stay, if they:

  • Are able to move freely without being at risk of becoming a victim of sexual violence;
  • Are free to choose whether or not to bring a child into the world;
  • Are able to protect themselves against STIs & HIV/AIDS by disposing freely of contraceptives;
  • Have access to high quality Sexual and Reproductive Health Care and shelter in case of (sexual) violence.