By: Neneh Galleh Barry
A two-day Media Forum on migration recently ended in Kariaba Beach Hotel with journalists from both the print and electronic media taking part.
The forum was organized by the “EU-IOM joint initiative for migrant protection and reintegration” as part of regional program.
The two-day forum aimed to increase the knowledge of the Gambian media on migration returnee, protection and reintegration of key topics such as data protection and techniques in interviewing returnees and vulnerable migrants.
Speaking at the forum, Fumiko Nagano, Chief of Mission, IOM Gambia says the role of the media is of paramount importance in the engagement with society. “We recognize that you work in a very difficult environment where you have to produce accurate information in a fast paced environment while keeping on attracting the attention of the readers.”
“We know that there is a lot going on in The Gambia and that you are under a lot of pressure and to report on such a complicated and sensitive hot topic as migration requires even more time and effort to deliver varied and at the same time accurate information,” she explained.
She further stressed that in The Gambia, the media contributed to the provision of reliable information on educating the public on the reintegration of returnees into society and the causes and effects of irregular migration.
According her, IOM Gambia decided to organize a two-day training for media professionals on providing the relevant tools to be able to report accurately on migration issues, with a focus on acquiring a good understanding of the return and reintegration processes, which is where the challenge particularly lies in The Gambia, one of the top countries affected by outgoing migration in West Africa.
She said the training would be part of a series of trainings organized under the project “EU-IOM Joint initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration: The Gambia”, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).
She further added that the aim of the training was to enhance the knowledge of the Gambian media professionals on all migration key topics relevant to the Gambian context.
“We intend to put our expertise on migration and migrant vulnerabilities at your disposal to provide you with guidance on how to interview migrants while ensuring their protection. We will also provide you with precise information regarding the activities undertaken by IOM globally and by IOM in The Gambia,” she noted.
The training, she continued, would offer them information on the basic concepts and definitions related to migration, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, as well as inform participants on the safeguards and sensitive issues relevant to reporting about reintegration of returnees in the country.
“We expect that this training will lead to the creation of a pool of specialized and knowledgeable journalists, capable of reporting professionally about all the mentioned migration issues, making sure that returnees’ needs and concerns are duly taken into account and accurately reported,” she added.
According to her, the Gambian government is making considerable efforts to receive and reintegrate Gambian returnees from the so-called “Back Way”, in particular for those returning from Niger and Libya since the beginning of 2017, adding that in this framework, IOM wants to work in cooperation with the media on a national level, contributing to strengthen the coordination and collaboration with the aim of enhancing the overall protection framework for vulnerable migrants.
She said the effort required not only the engagement of the government of The Gambia and IOM, but the effort of all other stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, academia and particularly the media.
“Our wish is that you will become our voice but more importantly the returnees’ voices, able to make constructive calls to society in order to raise awareness about the risks of irregular migration and to join efforts in the common cause of reintegrating returnees into the Gambia,” Mrs Nagano concluded.