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Child refugees have become pawns in a rightwing culture war

In striking down Alf Dubs’ House of Lords amendment, the government is feeding nativist narratives

“Who could be against children joining their families?” Few questions better capture the cruelty of the Conservative government’s approach to child refugees than that posed by Labour peer Alf Dubs this week. Dubs was protesting against the government’s decision to scrap a commitment from the Brexit withdrawal agreement that allows unaccompanied child refugees to reunite with their families in Britain. The House of Lords struck down the measure on Tuesday – only for the government to promptly overturn its changes. Dubs’ question pinpointed the confusing priorities of Boris Johnson’s hard-right government: why did it pick this fight?

The government’s position is riven with contradictions: it publicly supports protecting family reunification, but argues that including the commitment within the Brexit withdrawal bill ties its hands in EU negotiations. How can your hands be tied by something you’ve publicly supported? Vulnerable children should not be made bargaining chips, but the row over child refugees plays into a culture war that has proved a winning electoral formula for the right. Much like rightwing politicians’ tirades against international aid, which pit overseas donations against the needs of British pensioners waiting for beds in hospital corridors, the debate around child refugees fortifies a nativist narrative: (white) Britain comes first.

READ  Gambia youths lament death of 58 migrants in Atlantic Ocean

This message is finding a growing audience among a population that has experienced the economic hardships of austerity and absorbed its belt-tightening mantra. The populist right preys on this invented feeling of economic scarcity. While debating the issue of unaccompanied child refugees recently on Sky News, my fellow panellist, a Conservative supporter, argued the government’s priority should be housing the many deprived British children and families living in temporary accommodation.

Read Also: Millions of future climate refugees may need protection, U.N. committee warns

It was a perfect example of the racialised antagonism that pits groups against one another. Having helped to plunge a fifth of the population into poverty, the right now uses Britain’s straitened circumstances as justification to attack progressives for wanting to help refugee children. This deepens the divisive rhetoric of “us” and “them”; the latter category now includes not just migrants or foreigners, but also people who are anxious to defend them.

Across the world, progressives are consumed by the question of how to dismantle this dog-whistle racism. The communications expert Anat Shenker-Osorio works on political messaging designed to defeat far-right narratives. She has closely studied successful progressive campaigns, from New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s 2017 victory to Ireland’s 2018 referendum on abortion. During the 2018 US midterm elections, Shenker-Osorio worked with grassroots groups in Minnesota that were attempting to counter Republican race-baiting and immigrant-bashing. They found that messages focused only on economics weren’t cutting through. As JaNaé Bates, communications director for the Isaiah coalition of faith communities for racial and economic justice in Minnesota, has explained, some voters who wanted free healthcare, education and childcare would add: “If my Somali neighbour is going to get it [too], I don’t want it.”

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Progressive groups worked with Shenker-Osorio to develop a campaign message with an inclusive narrative capable of persuading swing voters. It focused on a relatable subject: long Minnesota winters. A campaign ad, which ran on radio and online, claimed that everyone knew how to dig their neighbours out of the snow – regardless of whether they had lived in Minnesota for one year or 50. The ad concluded with a rousing message that called out the divisive rhetoric of opposition candidates: “There are lots of ways to be Minnesotan and all of them are greater than fear”.

Minnesota, previously a marginal Democrat state, wound up with resounding Democrat victories for governor, attorney general and Senate races, taking control of the state house and elected the first Somali-American, Ilhan Omar, to Congress. Its story is a lesson for the challenges facing the UK left: how to build a more inclusive version of the collective “us” and share ideas with progressive movements in other countries – which is exactly how the populist right is organising. As Shenker-Osorio says when we talk on the phone: “The right uses the same talking points everywhere, all they do is run it through a localised spellcheck.”

READ  Nigeria promises maximum security for citizens in Ghana

The alternative is to be dragged into a nativist narrative that incites division. And that’s where everyone loses, from desperate families forced to use food banks, to children living in camps far away from their families.

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Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

Nigerians resident in Spain have kicked against bad governance and brutalitalisation of innocent citizens by security operatives in Nigeria.

They are in solidarity with the #Endsars protesters.

The #Endsars protest  started by young Nigerians to say no to brutality, impunity and gruesome killings in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the government in the country saw security operatives using live bullets on the protesters last week, October 21, 2020.

In a statement signed by Afolabi Oloko, the Nigerians in Spain said: “In every part  of the world, including Nigeria, we believe protesting is a fundamental right of all citizenry that we can exercise whenever we deem it fit as long as it is civil and devoid of violence but such is not the case in Nigeria where the young future of the country are murdered by their very own government just because they made demands that there must be a reform to the notorious Police department and that the country be reformed in general. Have they asked for too much from a responsible and responsive government?

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“It is so disheartening that after Ten days that the youth refused to back down they resorted to killing, maiming of their own future generations just because they asked and begged for good governance and good policing. It’s a shame that young people are being killed all around the cities of Nigeria from Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo , Benin, Porthacort just to mention a few. It was horrendous seeing over seventy people being murdered at night while still protesting unarmed peacefully in Lekki area of Lagos state. They organised by switching off the street light while they carried out their evil deed against defenceless young people of the country and also took away the CCTV. The commander-in-chief of the Armed forces in person of President Muhamodu Buhari must be tried at the International court for genocide against it’s own people.

“We the compatriots far away in Spain are with our young brothers and sister on the streets saying no to bad governance as you’re in our hearts and prayers. We support you in the just cause you’re are fighting. Fighting for one’s future should not be seen as an affront to the authorities, rather they should look inward and realise that the system is rotten and should be cleansed but not killing innocent young men on the streets with Army being deployed to take lives of vibrant and resourceful, frustrated and change hungry citizens.
“Today, we came out in multitude in solidarity with our compatriots back home to say #ENDSARS! #ENDBADGOVERNANCE #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY #ENDCORUPTION #ENDTHEGENOCIDE”

READ  Gambia youths lament death of 58 migrants in Atlantic Ocean

 

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ILO, IOM sign agreement to strengthen collaboration on migration governance

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed an Agreement to create a framework for cooperation and collaboration to enhance the benefits of migration for all.

The framework includes joint support for improved migration governance, capacity building and policy coherence at national, regional and global levels. Other areas of work may also be developed.

The Agreement was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, and António Vitorino, the IOM Director-General, on Friday at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ryder said, “this Agreement seals an important alliance between our two organizations. Together, we will be stronger and more effective in both fulfilling our individual mandates and in collaborating on areas that are crucial for reshaping the world of work so that it is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a brutal impact on economies and societies. Vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and their families, are being disproportionately hit. There could be no better time to reinforce our partnership and combine our strengths, so that we can help countries and our constituents build back for a better future.”

READ  Gambia youths lament death of 58 migrants in Atlantic Ocean

DG Vitorino said, “the agreement that we are signing today will help us further solidify our collaboration at the time when joint solutions are so much needed, with a pandemic that is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. As we move towards post-pandemic recovery, we fully embrace the call to build a better world together, tapping into the added value of each partner. With ILO, we have much to co-create and we look forward to future cooperation within the broader UN family, with our partner governments, private sector and civil society.”

The new ILO-IOM Agreement builds on the agencies’ comparative advantages, expertise, and respective constituencies. By encouraging joint initiatives, the Agreement aims to strengthen international migration governance and boost cooperation, capacity building and joint advocacy to promote migrants’ rights and decent work opportunities.

By encouraging social dialogue, it will allow workers` and employers` organizations – who sit equally with governments in the ILO’s tripartite membership structure – to contribute to policy discussions.

READ  Nigeria promises maximum security for citizens in Ghana

A workplan will be developed in the next six months to push forward the collaboration at global, regional and country levels and, more importantly, facilitate the implementation of the Agreement in the field, where both agencies are working directly with affected populations.

It will seek to enhance the agencies joint contribution to their member states, UN country teams, and societies to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agreement will also allow the ILO and IOM to strengthen support for their respective constituencies in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), and contribute to other global and regional migration policy fora and debates.

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Stop enslavement of Africans in other continents- Experts tell African leaders

The second international migration summit by the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) ended on Friday, October 16, 2020,  at the Pensioners FM, Ibadan, Oyo State, with a call to  African leaders to deliver good governance to halt continued enslavement of the Africans in other continents through irregular migration.

The conference themed: Migration governance and media strategy for development   with physical and virtual presentations was attended by hundreds of journalists and other participants across the world.

President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi, in his remark after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Diaspora Innovation Institute (DII), US, on training and investment opportunities for journalists, said the global media body with over 200 journalists spread across the continents as parts of the fallouts of the summit would produce glossary of terminologies for over 10,000 journalists and media houses beyond Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Governor Oluwaseyi Makinde of Oyo State hailed JIFORM’s  advocacy and identified poverty as the root cause of irregular migration pledging commitment to reverse the tide through good governance.

Represented by Barrister Olubunmi Ogunniran, Director General of Legal Administration, Oyo State Ministry of Justice, the governor said apart from rescuing trafficked indigenes of the state abroad and creating diaspora unit, he had inaugurated a task force against human trafficking, sexual offenders with prosecute department and further engagement of the youths through economic activities.

READ  Coronavirus: Nigerian doctor, wife die within 10 days in UK

Minister of Labour Sierra Leone, Mr Alpha Timbo; Ghana Ambassador to Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan, Nii Okai Hammond, and the United Nations Youth Ambassador (Ghana), Lilian Addo, all praised what they tagged courageous movement by JIFORM and promised to support the body in its quest to further spread its advocacies.

Chairman of the summit, Patrick Lumumba,  rued the faulty labour and trade laws in Africa limiting development and called on the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) for ntervention to remove migration barriers causing undue frictions between Ghana and Nigeria ditto for the African Union to end the xenophobic attacks in South Africa against other African nationals.

He blamed the crisis on misapplication of resources and corruption among African leaders and urged them to retrace their steps to save the youths from desperate migration to other continents through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.

Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe lauded JIFORM’s efforts to eradicate irregular migration and vowed to rescue and end the suffering of stranded Nigerians lured through human trafficking to the Middle East and other Arabian nations through collaborations.

READ  Danish boat in Aegean refused order to push back rescued migrants

Member of African Union Advisory Committee on Labour Migration, (Ghana) Dr Princess Ocansey urged the African nations to end the Kafala bilateral agreement entered into with some Middle East countres that permitted the en-slavery of mostly African women.

“African leaders must wake up to save the youths from deadly work they are being subjected and replace that with decent work. The Kafala system is a shame and very dehumanizing” she said.

Former Canada Minister of Immigration, Gerry Weiner while delivering his presentation urged the African youths to acquit themselves with the right processes to tap into numerous diaspora opportunities in Canada and elsewhere.

Weiner, who had 12 years working experience in Africa, said only safe and regular migration, would guarantee the actualization of the desire to be part of  economic activities in the world.

The summit had participation from several international speaker that Prince Akin Ojomo from DII; included Johanna Mac from Erich Brost Institute, Germany; Barrister Samuel Adeusi and Ms Omotola Fawunmi both from the US; International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria and Gambia; Rescue African Mission; Synergy Rescue Mission; ThisLebanon Lebanon; Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM); National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP); Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Ghana Immigration Service; Diaspora Innovation Institute, New York, America; and Ghana Immigration Service.

READ  Nigeria evacuates 160 stranded citizens from US

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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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