BartaBangla Desk :: The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) hosted a one-day seminar in Bern, Switzerland, around the topic “Covering migration: challenges met and unmet – a look at Switzerland”, convening 30 Switzerland-based participants, for the most part journalists, along with experts and civil society representatives working in the fields of media and migration. Following a major high-level seminar held in Paris last January, this Swiss edition, organized by the UNAOC in partnership with the Club Suisse de la Presse, aimed to discuss challenges and practices on how the media covers migration in Switzerland.
Convening some of the most recognized experts in migration from IOM, IFRC, the Panos Institute and academics, the seminar covered the following: main challenges faced by media professionals, existing guidelines and how best these guidelines apply to the media coverage, migration and minority communities portrayed in the media, among others.
“The fear of the other has long plagued discussions around migration, and migrants have increasingly become the target of racism and xenophobia. The is where the role of the media becomes essential, in dispelling myths and changing narratives around migrants. We have a shared responsibility and the UNAOC will remain engaged in the discourse around migration”, said UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
The seminar also provided journalists with background on migration: facts, figures, trends, and projections. “If migration flows continue to grow at the current rate, the World Bank estimates that the number of international migrants could reach 405 million by 2050. Migration flows will also become more complex. There is therefore a real need for better management and communication about migration”, says Eve Amez Droz from the IOM Berne.
Journalists, experts and civil society representatives agreed on a set of recommendations that will be disseminated through various channels, both in Switzerland and in other countries. “Journalists need to be aware of the impact of their messages when writing a story about migrants, sometimes with serious consequences”, said one of the participants. Among the recommendations was the need to access data on migration, create a network of journalists covering the issue, create academic degrees on migration in journalism schools, or increasing migrants’ representation in newsrooms. The full set of recommendations will be available in the coming weeks.
The UNAOC is launching a social media campaign #coveringmigration to disseminate outcomes of the various seminars and engage in a wider discussion on social media.