Ghanaian Media and Youth Converge to Discuss Issues of Migration in the Country

To provide a common platform to contribute to the raising awareness of irregular migration while providing the opportunity for the increase in coverage of migration issues in Ghana, UNESCO Accra office together with the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana have organized a stakeholders forum on media and migration.

This forum discussed the place of the media in reducing irregular migration while drawing the attention of young people to the perils of irregular migration.

The forum is one of the activities under the ‘Empowering Young People in Africa through Media and Communication’ project funded by the Italian government through “Fondo Africa” a financial instrument aimed at supporting interventions to revive dialogue and cooperation between Italy and the African countries.

The Head of Office of UNESCO, Accra office, Mr. Abdourahamane DIALLO, stated that the high rate of youth unemployment is one of the numerous factors driving irregular migration. “It is interesting to note that Africa currently has the largest youth population in the world that needs to be invested in to reach return on investment or demographic dividend,” he noted.

He also mentioned the media’s role in creating awareness on the risks involved in irregular migration and the provision of relevant information to people. Mr Diallo stated  that under the “Empowering Young people in Africa” project, UNESCO has trained 40 journalists on migration and gender sensitive reporting. The trainees have formed a network of journalist on migration with the aim of sharing information among themselves and the public on migration. He further spoke about the collaboration between UNESCO and media organizations to produce educational programs on migration and to create awareness on the dangers of irregular migration. “UNESCO is also looking to collaborate with GCRN to revisit the production and dissemination of TV magazine progammes targeted at migration prone areas in local languages. We are also working with the CIVIC Care Platform on youth led campaign targeted at Senior High School students and finally the establishment of professional standards on reporting for migration in Ghana and the creation of migration desks in newsrooms across the country to be facilitated by the Ghana Journalists Association.,” he noted.

On his part, the Minister of Information, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah called on the media to intensify education on migration through interesting and creative stories to ensure that those who could be influenced with relevant information are saved from such perilous journeys.

Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah expressed concern over the data from a survey conducted on irregular migrants which showed that 98% of almost 2000 irregular migrants show willingness to embark on the dangerous journey even after witnessing first-hand the dangers associated with it.

He urged the media to focus on the challenges of irregular migration, how to migrate right, and most importantly, highlight ways through which young people can achieve their dreams back home.

The Italian Ambassador, H.E. Madam Daniela d’Orlandi lamented about the growing figures of migrants over the years and the need to provide long-lasting solutions to the issue of migration. She explained that the role of the media in the campaign is to educate and sensitize the public on migration issues as well as the need to strengthen the media so they can improve their capability to provide quality information to people on migration issues.

The ambassador also mentioned that Italy supports UNESCO regarding its initiatives to “build the capacity of young professionals in media organizations to better identify and respond to the information needs of migrant populations.

The International Organization for Migration Chief of Mission, Madam Abibatou Wane-Fall touched on the reasons why people migrate. She mentioned high unemployment rates in most African countries as the major cause. She also reiterated on the need for the media to highlight the resources and opportunities available for people in their home countries in order to deter them from migrating in search of better standards of living.

Mr Pius Israel Asubonteng, a returnee sadly narrated his harrowing events during the journey.

Before his journey to Tunisia, he had made a number of attempts at stowing away through the Takoradi Port, something he says is very common and also a common cause of death among the youth of the Western Region. “Upon my arrival in Tunisia, I secured a job which required the use of scaffolds’. According to him on one occasion, while on the scaffold, he felt a need to latch a part of the scaffold better. While on the ground searching for something by which to do the latching he heard a loud sound. He only realized the cause three days later when he regained consciousness in a hospital with one leg amputated; he had stepped on a bomb. Thereafter, the Ghana Mission there was called to take him over and arrange his return.

In all, 80 people comprising of community members and media personnel from irregular migration-prone communities in the general Bono and Ahafo areas and the Western Region were physically present at the event. The online streaming of the event reached 1,454 people with 361 engagements.

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