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FEATURE: Migration, governance and media reporting

António Guterres

António Guterres

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres asserts that migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding among the nations.

According to him, migration also allows millions of people to seek new opportunities with benefits for both the communities of origin and destination communities.

In spite of the benefits, observers note that before 2000, migration governance did not occupy a central place in discussions at the United Nations and no day was dedicated to celebrate migrants.

However, since 2000, the UN has set aside every December 18 as International Migrants Day.

The declaration is intended to break down stereotypes about migrants and to highlight their contributions to development across the world.

The UN is actively playing a catalyst role in this area, with the aim of creating more dialogues and interactions within countries and regions, as well as propelling experience exchange and collaboration opportunities.

“Today, globalisation and advances in communications and transportation has increased the number of people who have the desire and the capacity to move to other places.

“This new era has created challenges and opportunities for societies throughout the world.

“It also has served to underscore the clear linkage between migration and development as well as the opportunities it provides for co-development, that is, the concerted improvement of economic and social conditions at both origin and destination.

“Migration draws increasing attention in the world nowadays. Mixed with elements of unforeseen ability, emergency, and complexity, the challenges and difficulties of international migration require enhanced cooperation and collective action among countries and regions,’’ Guterres observes.

READ  Pope defends migrants, calls for peace in Christmas message

Stakeholders also observe that throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individuals’ will to overcome adversity and to live a better life.

They believe that treating every migrant with dignity is one of fundamental requirements we face before anything else we attempt on migration.

They also observe that barely a day goes by without multiple media reports –whether in traditional or newer forms of media — focusing on aspects of migration, frequently on negative aspects.

“Judgmental reporting and media practitioners often see irregular migrants as lazy and greedy fellows among others.

“Media have been manipulated by political leaders, too often accepting their outrageous statements.

“These create a us and them which reveals differences at the expense of coverage of shared human and national issues,’’ Mr Andrew Williams, a newsman notes.

For effective and balanced reportage on migration, Prof. Anthony Kanu of Tansian University, Umunya in Anambra, advises the media practitioners to always apply a holistic approach that is data based and devoid of bias when reporting migration issues.

“Media coverage tends, at first, to project and reflect empathy, solidarity and goodwill towards migrants fleeing war zones or those who are victims of tragic events.

“But in time, the tone changes to become more concerned and even hostile towards migrant communities through the use of stereotypes or a negative focus on crime, threats of terrorism and anti-social behaviour.

“The language of reporting is often laced with hate-speech and loose language; talk of waves, invasions or tides.

READ  Denmark: Over half of African and Middle Eastern migrants are convicted of a crime before age 30

“The media often fail to give adequate voice to migrants and often media reporting relies too heavily on single, official sources of information,’’ he observes.

According to him, media practitioners need to report for all and not just particular persons, by so doing we will have a holistic reportage that will help national development.

READ ALSO: Lebanese police arrest employer of Nigerian sold into slavery

He notes further that there is indeed an urgent need to put in more effort to report issues of migration correctly and enhance scope of migration reportage networks.

Kanu says in the context of migration, the media is crucial in delivering verified information, informed opinions as well as balanced and inclusive narratives.

He insists that the way the media covers migration will affect the range and quality of information received by the public, particularly migrants, as well as how societies perceive and relate to the issue.

Dr Emeka Obiezu, the National Coordinator, Civil Society Network on Migration and Development, says that media professionals should appropriately and effectively play their role of enlightening the public on issues of migration.

Obiezu agrees that the media is crucial in delivering verified information, informed opinions as well as balance an inclusive narrative.

“The media organisation contributes and shapes the public, political perception on all aspect of life which includes migration.

“In many instances, such perception portrays migration as a problem rather than a multi-faceted global phenomenon with a variety of challenges and opportunities,’’ he said.

READ  Nigeria evacuates 160 stranded citizens from US

Dr Adebanke Ogun, Programme Assistant in International Organisation for Migration (IOM), notes that migrants, whether of regular or irregular status, should be accorded their fundamental human rights.

Also, Mr Charles Anaelo, Coordinator, Technical Working Group, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons says that migration reportage is of global importance.

He explains that public opinion, guided by the media most of the time, determines the policies, actions and implementation of everything about migration.

He promises that the commission will continue to engage media not just as an outside body but as members of Technical Working Group.

“We want to integrate the media so that they will form a very big pillar on the issues of migration management; without you we cannot achieve it, you are the one that will take it to the grassroots,’’ he says.

(NANFeatures)

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UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

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Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  Nigeria evacuates 160 stranded citizens from US

 

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UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

READ  Nigeria evacuates 160 stranded citizens from US

“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  UN laments humanitarian challenges in Venezuela

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Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

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“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

READ  Denmark: Over half of African and Middle Eastern migrants are convicted of a crime before age 30

IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

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