The International Union of French-Speaking Press (UPF) and UNESCO will strengthen the capacity of journalists to deal with migration issues in the framework of COVID-19 and will encourage independent media productions.
Three quarters of refugees, as well as many migrants, are in developing countries where health systems are fragile and often inaccessible even to indigenous populations. Refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons and migrants are thus exposed to a greater risk of contamination and the circular spread of the virus in countries of transit or destination.
“Some 15 media outlets selected on the basis of criteria of professionalism and audience will be accompanied by a coherent and effective media approach to solutions that promote access to information, effective responses, and an approach to migration issues in accordance with the principles of ethical journalism, through online training,” said Zara Nazarian, Secretary General of the International Union of French-Speaking Press (UPF), a major international non-governmental organization celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
The training courses are aimed at Lebanon, Niger, Morocco and Tunisia, countries that are highly exposed to migration flows. Topics to be covered include the exposure of border communities to disorderly and insensitive movements and their vulnerability to disease; border management, including migrant health, so that local authorities, inhabitants and migrants can reduce the spread of the virus and prepare for the future; the situation of immigration officials themselves and their need for practical help and sound advice; and the closure of border crossings, its impact on border communities and preparedness when border crossings are resumed, among other issues.
In addition to equipping them with the skills and knowledge to deal fairly with migration issues, the goal of these training courses is to raise media awareness of their own impact in providing solutions in times of crisis. “The stakes are high,” said Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General, “because media coverage influences public opinion and government responses, especially on issues that affect large segments of the population.
The current context of the fight against COVID-19 makes its training even more relevant and useful. No less than 30 independent productions (articles, television and radio programmes, etc.) will follow their training courses, reaching, in addition to the media, a wide audience in the countries concerned.