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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  Conflicts, disasters displace 12 million children in 2019- UNICEF

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  688  killed, three million displaced by flood in Nigeria

“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  Homecoming: 109 stranded Nigerians return from Mali via humanitarian corridor

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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Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

READ  IOM aids COVID-impacted communities on Haiti-Dominican border, worldwide

“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

READ  JIFORM takes anti -trafficking campaign to higher institution

“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

READ  Conflicts, disasters displace 12 million children in 2019- UNICEF

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A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

READ  688  killed, three million displaced by flood in Nigeria

UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

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Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

READ  Conflicts, disasters displace 12 million children in 2019- UNICEF

“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

READ  688  killed, three million displaced by flood in Nigeria

“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

READ  UNODC hosts training on Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism and the International Legal Framework against Organized Crime

Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

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