By Jacinta Nwachukwu
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.
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 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 themwhich 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.