Group tasks S’East Journalists On Proper Migration Reportage

By Chinwe Imo-Eze Onwosi

The Civil Society Network on Migration and Development (CSOnetMADE), has enjoined Journalist to report accurate, clear and well-documented media coverage on migration.

The group in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and European Union, made this known during a two-day capacity-building workshop for South East journalists on proper migration reportage.

The training held in Enugu Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th March 2021, was aimed at broadening the knowledge of Nigerian journalist on migration issues and in framing migration reports, that will positively influence migration policies and implementation, had in attendance journalists drawn from print, electronic and online media organisations, in the southeast including representatives of IOM and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI)

Speaking at the event, the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced persons, NCFRMI, Senator Bashir Garba Mohammed, decried the rate at which people criminalise migrants, and urged media practitioners to help change public perception of migration through positive reportage.

Mohammed, represented by the Zonal Coordinator of NCFRMI, Barr. Mrs. Jane Molekwu, said the training would enable media understand the trends, dynamics and terminologies in their migration reports, and thanked EU for their efforts in entrenching media to better manage migration issues in Nigeria.

He said although Migration has been part of human history and civilization, contributing to natural and human development, it is happening at an increased rate with significant impact on various countries of origin, transit and destination countries as well as on the individual person on the move.

Stressing that media represents a critical domain for management of migration and the analysis of media representation is critical to understanding the responsibilities and consequences of cross-border mobility, settlement and protection.

He commended the EU and the IOM for their continued interest and support in entrenching better management of migration in Nigeria.

In an address, Dr Adebanke Ogun, the IOM Project Assistant, Data and Policy, who represented the IOM Chief of Mission, Mr Frantz Celestine, revealed that IOM is a leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration in Nigeria and across the globe, is presently working in over 176 countries in the world.

He said the overall objective of EU-IOM initiative for migrants protection and reintegration, is aimed at strengthening the governance of migration in EU-partner countries and the sustainable return and reintegration of returning migrants.

“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own and to return to his country. Everyone has the right to recognition as a person before the law. Everyone has the right to a nationality. These are the cardinal objectives which the EU-IOM initiative pushes to enforce,” she said.

In his remark while addressing the participants at the training, CSOnetMADE director, Dr Emeka Chris Obiezu, said the group is a network of Civil Society Organizations, (CSOs), Faith Based Organization (FBOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs) who advocate for Migrants at the grassroot..

According to him “At the end of the training, we want to have a crop of journalists who are enlightened on the issue of migration and can now go ahead and drive the agenda for policy redirection in the area of migration, through the right use of terminologies and dissemination of the right information,” he noted.

Journalists at the training spoke on the need for the decentralization of the relevant organizations in the various states, to aid easy access to resources and data, as well as asked questions and got clarifications on some grey areas of migration issues reportage.

Resource person, Mr Paul Nwankwo in a paper titled Media and Migration Perspectives and Assumptions, acknowledged that media coverage is crucial in shaping people’s opinions on migration and the plight of refugees and asylum seekers but maintained that undue political influence, self censorship inside news rooms and prevailing lack of resources, hampers the preparation of in-depth, well-researched editorial needed for reporting in contest.

As a result, he noted, much of the media reports of migration, reflect political bias and are superficial, simplistic and often ill-informed, with a language laced with hate speech and incorrect terminology to describe migrants, refugees, displaced persons.

“These negative reports prepare grounds for stereotypes that inspire attacks on migrants by their host countries and societies. The aim therefore, is to understand the prevailing the various media narratives that exist, connecting the editorial lines and political narratives. All people are global citizens and have the right to leave their home countries in pursuit of better lives. The Media fail to give adequate voices to migrants themselves and often use single stories which criminalize migrants.

“There is nothing like illegal migrant rather, we have irregular migrants. Countries are using the process of migration to criminalize migrants, hence the need to expunge the term illegal migrants. Migrants should be able to rely on the media for the right information on their new environment,” he said.

Nwankwo maintained that if properly reported and managed, migration can yield immeasurable benefits to the origin, transit and destination countries as well as on the migrant on the move.

He cited the Southeast region as a major beneficiary of migration, with remittances from the activities, supporting families, societies and government.

“Southeast is the bedrock of migration activities across Europe, Asia. Nigerians abroad remit billions of dollars to support families. They also help the government support their budget but what comes out in the media, are usually negative reports that can undermine this benefit-yielding venture by people of the zone. That is why this training is important,” he said.

He also harped on the need for the media to begin to interrogate government’s ineptitude and actions that drive migration such as inability to address insecurity, inability to create employment and generate economic opportunities.

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