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A Must Read for Seasoned Migration Journalists

Below are the full details of the charter relating to the use of terminology as launched at International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in Tunisia on Tuesday December 10, 2019.

Charter for ethical reporting on migration

The Migration Media Charter is a collaborative effort between journalists, migrants and people working in migrant policy organisations, compiled by Migrants’ Rights Network and People & Planet.

The Pledges

1. Drop the word ‘illegal’

2. Migrants are not to blame

3. Migrants are neither ‘deserving’ nor ‘undeserving’

4. Put migrants on platforms and in newsrooms

5. Cover the positive stories of migration

6. Interview respectfully

7. Stay with the story

8. Headline responsibly

9. Raise awareness of the root causes of displacement

10. Interrogate the immigration enforcement industry

1. Drop the word ‘illegal’

Currently, ‘illegal’ is the most common precursor to ‘immigrant’ in UK newspaper headlines.

Not only is it dehumanising when referring to a human being – their identity seemingly criminalised – but also inaccurate: the majority of cases are processed through civil rather than criminal courts.

Using ‘illegal’ exposes people suspected of being undocumented to misrepresentation or abuse.

The word ‘illegal’ must never be used to describe any migrant, unless it is in a direct quote.

Journalists should not divulge the migration status of any person they report on without the full, informed consent of the subject.

Ask yourself: How is an interviewee’s migration status relevant to the story? What better terms can be used for migrants without the correct documentation?

2. Migrants are not to blame

Media coverage around migration often suggests it contributes to an overall decline in living standards – from public service and housing shortages to community tensions and violent crime.

Migrant workers have been blamed for depleting wages and labour quality for non-migrant workers because they will accept lower pay and conditions, despite most people having little say over their specific terms of work.

Calls to slow labour decline or improve access to local services by tightening immigration controls ignore the evidence that restricting ‘official’ avenues through which some people can migrate may force others to use ‘unofficial’ migration channels, leading to a larger pool of precarious people vulnerable to poor living and working conditions.

Migrants are not to blame for low wages, job scarcity, housing shortages or exhausting public services.

Journalists should frame migration issues responsibly, and consider placing the duty for the quality of labour conditions or local services away from migrants towards those with the power to change it.

Ask yourself: How can the story be reframed in a way that does not place blame on migrants seeking a better life? What are the structural causes of low pay or overextended local services?

READ  Human trafficking generates billions in profit at the expense of victims- A-TIPSOM

3. Migrants are neither ‘deserving’ nor ‘undeserving’

Migrants escaping persecution are often portrayed as more deserving of public support than those deemed as migrating simply for ’economic’ reasons.

Notwithstanding that fleeing poverty or moving in search of a dignified life are basic human rights, the simplistic categories of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ migrants misrepresent the myriad reasons why people choose to migrate – for example, the economic causes of migration may have been exacerbated by environmental devastation or political conflict at home.

People rarely migrate for a single reason and should not to be artificially divided – implicitly or explicitly – into ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’ categories.

Journalists should recognise the negative connotations of using terms such as ‘economic migrant’.

Ask yourself: What reasons drive people to migrate other than the purely economic?

Is your subject happy to be termed an ‘economic migrant’ or can they be better described?

4. Put migrants on platforms and in newsrooms

The underrepresentation of migrants in the media has allowed negative reporting to go unchecked, leading to a one-sided, ‘us’ versus ‘them’ migration narrative to take root.

Considering that the ‘immigration debate’ dominates the headlines, accompanying stories are rarely written by those with direct experience of migration.

An increased representation of Britain’s migrant community across the industry will better reflect diversity of opinion and help address the imbalance in migration coverage.

Media outlets can benefit from a more diverse workforce and set the standard by hiring more journalists with direct experience of migration, including writers of colour.

The industry should improve access to journalism schools or spokesperson and media training for people from migrant backgrounds.

Ask yourself: How is migration coverage affected by the lack of migrant representation in the media?

What additional support for migrant journalists can be provided by the industry?

5. Cover the positive stories of migration

While it is important to raise awareness of the injustices faced by migrants, it can be easy to slip into a narrative of victimisation.

Migrants are not simply passive subjects – they are in charge of their actions and movements, playing a proactive role in our communities, often leading struggles against the oppression they may face.

The media can help audiences better understand the reality and complexity of migration in the UK by carrying the positive stories or offering migrant communities the opportunity to relate their own experiences unfiltered.

Media outlets pursuing migration stories should build positive relationships with migrant community networks and invite them to contribute to coverage.

Journalists should consider integrating everyday examples of migrant agency into their reporting of migration where possible.

Ask yourself: In what ways can I enrich my story by speaking to people with direct experience of migration?

READ  Response capacities stretched with hasty return of 40,000 Ethiopian migrants

How can I ensure my subject is not viewed simply as a ‘victim’ but rather a person with agency?

6. Interview respectfully

Many migrants interviewed by journalists have subsequently felt unhappy with how their lives have been portrayed – their stories published out of context, in some cases carrying identifiable information putting them at risk.

The informed consent of interviewees must always be granted – building trust between journalists and migrant communities will lead to richer stories and make future collaboration more likely.

Ensure that all interviewees are made aware of the full scope of the story being written.

Journalists should make every effort to run the story past their interviewees before submission.

Ask yourself: What support services can be provided to avoid traumatising interviewees?

Are any details included which may put interviewees at risk once the story is published?

7. Stay with the story

The circulation of misleading, often inaccurate information around migration policy in the press may stem from a lack of awareness of the legal, social and economic causes and consequences.

Media has a duty to consider the human cost of political decision-making and keep audiences informed of new research, legislative changes and the implications for migrants.

Media outlets should raise awareness of significant policy shifts that may have gone unnoticed and consider their impact upon migrant communities.

Journalists should build relationships with specialists, especially those in migrant-led organisations, with whom they can consult when considering evidence or seeking advice on migration stories.

Ask yourself: How will a government policy announcement affect the lives of migrant communities upon implementation?

How have the lives of migrant interviewees changed six months on from a story?

8. Headline responsibly

Provocative headlines reporting inflammatory statements around migration often set the agenda for public discussion and significantly impact on migrant communities.

Ill-informed comments from publicity-seeking figures have all too often guided the press narrative on migration as under-resourced reporters have little time to research issues, go out into the field, or build relationships with experts and migrants themselves before submitting stories.

Journalists should consider the intent of the people they platform and the consequences for migrant communities once their stories are published.

Media outlets must ensure that a lack of resources or staff will not affect the accuracy of their migration coverage.

Ask yourself: In what ways are the people you platform experts in migration matters and why is their perspective in the public interest?

Will more time and support for your story produce a fairer portrait of migration?

9. Raise awareness of the root causes of displacement

While immigration garners vast media attention, the root causes of why people migrate is often missing from coverage.

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Migration is a legitimate strategy for escaping hardship – offering audiences regular, considered coverage of the systemic causes of displacement not only helps improve understanding among the general public, it also encourages a culture of empathy towards those who migrate.

Media can play a role in normalising discussions around the histories of social conflict, economic instability, military intervention and environmental insecurity inextricably connected to contemporary migration.

Journalists reporting on individual migrants or specific patterns of migration should make every effort to sensitively outline the full context as to why people have migrated.

Ask yourself: What are the reasons behind migration which migrants themselves had no control over? Have people migrated from a region where economic and environmental insecurity or social and political instability are prevalent?

10. Interrogate the immigration enforcement industry

At vast public cost, the state and private companies work together to build and maintain detention centres for migrants, many of whom have fled war or torture and often suffer debilitating mental and physical health.

The system of detention, deportation and wider immigration enforcement displays a lack of accountability, denying journalists and civil society access to facilities and leaving migrants vulnerable.

Detainees witness riots, assaults and suicides, there is a shortage of care or community work experience among front-line staff, and public servants are co-opted to report on those deemed to have infringed immigration guidelines.

Media outlets and civil society should put more resources into interrogating the immigration enforcement industry and the decades-long increase in the incarceration of migrants.

Reporters should consider seeking access to immigration detention centres, and where possible build relationships with detainees and those affected by broader immigration enforcement policies.

Ask yourself: How am I able to speak to migrants with experience of detention or deportation? Which public bodies cooperate with the immigration enforcement industry and to whom are they accountable?

By signing up to these principles, I am committing to upholding them in my work.

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Opinions

Response capacities stretched with hasty return of 40,000 Ethiopian migrants

International Organisation of Migration (

Ethiopia – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is urgently appealing for funds to respond to the needs of 40,000 Ethiopian migrants returning from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Over 30,000 have arrived in Ethiopia over the last two weeks, at the rate of over 2,600 people a day. More than 20,400 (68 per cent) are from parts of Tigray and Amhara regions which are in the midst of conflict in Northern Ethiopia that has displaced nearly two million people.

The returns of Ethiopian migrants follow a bilateral agreement between the governments of Ethiopia and KSA.

According to IOM, USD 740,000 is needed to provide assistance for every 10,000 migrants returning. This is for essentials such as medical treatment, supplies for babies and infants such as diapers, clothing, help with finding and tracing family members, and reunifying them or providing alternative care arrangements as appropriate, as well as to respond to protection concerns.

“This sudden upsurge in returns poses a major challenge to our ability to assist the returnees – many of whom require medical and psychosocial assistance, support reuniting with their families, and livelihood options that would help to diminish the appeal of irregular re-migration to KSA and other countries of destination,” says Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission in Ethiopia.

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“Our response is seriously underfunded and barely reaching the needs of returnees in the provision of essential basic and specialized assistance, including for unaccompanied migrant children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and victims of trafficking.”

Many of the migrants will require help to return and reintegrate back into their communities.  Reintegration assistance is therefore vital to supporting the returnees psychologically, and to find work and stability, to help them avoid irregular migration, and exploitation by trafficking and smuggling rings.

The returning migrants are among the target population included in the Regional Migrant Response Plan  2021-2024 (MRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen, a USD 99 million appeal launched by IOM and 39 partners in March 2021 to address the protection needs, risks and vulnerabilities of migrants along this route. The MRP is underfunded and urgently requires additional resources to carry out its response, including for this target population.

While recognizing the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law, IOM, as part of the United Nations Network on Migration, reaffirms its commitment to keeping everyone safe. It means that all Member States need to ensure that collective expulsions of migrants and asylum-seekers must be halted; that protection needs, including international protection, must be individually assessed; and that the rule of law and due process must be observed. It also means prioritizing protection, including every child’s best interest, under the obligations in international law.

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IOM provides over 1,300 migrants with emergency shelter and assistance on the Canary Islands

International Organisation of Migration (

Madrid – As more migrants arrive in the Canary Islands, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has provided shelter, protection services, medical, legal and other types of assistance to 1,361 migrants on Tenerife.

The arrival of more than 23,000 people in the Canary Islands by sea in 2020, particularly in the last three months of the year, strained the reception capacity and COVID-19 has further complicated the response.  In November 2020, the Government of Spain announced “Plan Canarias” to renovate and expand the archipelago’s reception facilities to accommodate and assist 7,000 migrants.

Since 26 February this year, IOM has been operating at the Las Canteras Emergency Reception Facility (ERF) on Tenerife to support the Spanish government in managing the site. The EU-funded facility is an open centre which can accommodate as many as 1,100 people.

“Our priority is to support Spain with site management to provide safe and dignified living conditions and tailored services for migrants who have arrived via extremely treacherous journeys to the Canary Islands,” said Maria Jesús Herrera, Head of IOM’s Office in Spain.

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Today, some 300 migrants are staying at the facility from Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Sudan, The Gambia, Mauritania and Côte d’Ivoire.

At Las Canteras, IOM provides meals, core relief items, water and sanitation, maintenance, and Multipurpose Cash Assistance. The Organization also offers protection assistance, which includes vulnerability assessments, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS), primary health care, legal information and counselling for family reunification or international protection, and assistance with transfers of eligible vulnerable migrants to the mainland.

IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is also available to migrants who wish to return to their country of origin.

Marouane, a 27-year-old from Morocco, had arrived at the facility on 6 March. One year ago, he risked a harrowing sea journey towards the islands.

“For three days, you hang out with death, you see it. But if you don’t die, then you get there,” he told IOM in May.

To date, IOM has provided legal counselling to more than 780 people seeking asylum, in cooperation with UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. IOM also ensured – through close collaboration with the Spanish authorities – the referral and transfer of some 682 migrants to other specialized centres on the islands and the mainland.

READ  Human trafficking generates billions in profit at the expense of victims- A-TIPSOM

The Organization also works closely with the municipality of La Laguna to engage with neighbourhood associations, the Tenerife council, civil society, citizens and local actors in the interest of transparency, mutual exchange, and social cohesion.

“We consider the people hosted in Las Canteras centre as citizens of La Laguna municipality. We therefore try to collaborate as much as possible so that they also benefit from the activities organized by the City Council,” said José Luis Hernandez, Environment Councillor from the La Laguna City Hall.

Arrivals to the Canary Islands on the Western Africa-Atlantic Route this year have reached 7,309 – more than double the number of arrivals at the same time last year. Some 23,848 migrants have reached Spain irregularly via all land and sea routes so far this year.

The project at Las Canteras,“Supporting the Spanish Authorities in managing an Emergency Reception Facility on the Canary Islands”, is funded by the EU (European Commission, DG Home). The overall management of the ERF is under the coordination of the Site Manager of the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration. 

 

READ  Women struggle to get by as Yemen conflict hits six-year mark
  • IOM staff welcome a group of newly arrived migrants at the Las Canteras facility on Tenerife, Spain. Photo: IOM

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Opinions

IOM Ethiopia appeals for USD 40 million to assist additional 1.6 million people in Northern Ethiopia

Addis Ababa – Nearly two million people affected by the crisis in northern Ethiopia desperately need life-saving assistance, including water, medicine and shelter, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today as it issued an urgent appeal for USD 40 million to help internally displaced men, women and children, including newborn babies.

Since the outbreak of the conflict eight months ago in Ethiopia’s Tigray Regional State, millions of people are enduring unimaginable suffering, including forced displacement, hunger, death, and destruction of private and public property.

In Tigray, IOM has been providing support to more than half a million people, including displaced children, women, men, and vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and persons with disabilities. This includes shelter and provision of essential items such as food, water, clothing, medicine and supplies for babies, as well as sanitation and hygiene services.

READ  Response capacities stretched with hasty return of 40,000 Ethiopian migrants

IOM has also been supporting camp coordination and management efforts, providing mental health care to those in need, and producing Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) reports to shed light on the evolving situation.

Nearly USD 70 million (USD 69.3M) is needed to respond to the needs of internally displaced populations in northern Ethiopia but only USD 28.7 million has been received this year. IOM needs an extra USD 40.6 million for the remainder of 2021 to be able to continue and further expand its response to help the displaced.

“The nearly two million people displaced by this crisis continue to live in inhumane and undignified conditions and require critical and urgent support,” said Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UNECA. “IOM Director General António Vitorino said it before, and we say it again: we must act without delay to meet the needs of people in the region.”

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The situation in Tigray remains volatile. In partnership and coordination with other UN agencies, IOM is committed to delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance, to continue reaching people in need. IOM is planning to significantly scale up response programming and increase the deployment of senior IOM staff in the region despite the severe shortage of funding.

IOM’s response is aligned with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group’s (ICCG) – a cooperative effort among sectors and the Humanitarian Country Team to improve the national response – Northern Ethiopia Response Plan, which estimates that 5.2 million people are in dire need in the worst-case scenario of this escalating humanitarian crisis.

 

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2021 and beyond. The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve and new situations emerge.

READ  Migrant in Libya relives brutal detention through sketches

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