Selbin Kabote on: Delegates to the MV conference have highlighted the role of citizens on migration

GMT 12:47 Friday ,18 July 2014

 Migrant Voice - Selbin Kabote on: Delegates to the MV conference have highlighted the role of citizens on migration

Selbin Kabote

Kiri Kankhwende,The special projects and development manager at the UK based Media Diversified organisation, has encouraged migrants to stand together and fight any anti migrant sentiments in the UK and the rest of Europe as a united front. Speaking during a 'Question time style' immigration debate entitled 'Migration, What’s all the fuss about?', at the fourth annual Migrant Voice conference in London, Kiri Kankhawende said there is a need to bring the lived experience of migration into the debate. She argued  that as long as politicians blame economic problems on migrants, xenophobia will continue to increase.  The media expert noted the importance of people coming together to act “since there are some people who see migration as an emblem of everything that is wrong”.   She added that it is important to continue to challenge some misconceptions on migration. In her contribution to the debate, Sofi Taylor of the Overseas Nurses and Care Workers Network said naturalised citizens of the United Kingdom also need respect from fellow citizens. “Despite the fact I have lived in the country for many years, I am still called a migrant” Sofi Taylor said. Commenting on the victory of the far right movements in Europe during the recent elections, Philippe Legrain, a journalist and author explained that what is worrying at the moment is how the mainstream parties in the UK and Europe are responding to the rise of the far right movements in Europe. Speaking during a later session at the conference, looking at the 'Learning from Europe'Anne Stoltenberg of Migrant Voice said there is currently a lot of negative media rhetoric around migration. Anne explained that  “the media has a powerful impact on people’s attitudes on migration”. Commenting on the migration situation in Europe, one of the invited delegates from the Italian organisation CESVI, Simona Ghezzi said Italy is the gateway to Europe and it is not the country immigrants prefer to stay. She said many migrants have left the country and gone back to their countries of origin due to the economic problems being faced in Italy. She said that many people are emigrating from Italy due to the high levels of unemployment. Simona Ghezzi mentioned that it is also very difficult to get Italian citizenship especially if you are not employed. One of the speakers on day 2 of the conference, was Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, a UK based think tank seeking to involve people in an open conversation about identity and integration, migration and opportunity. In his response to the issue of the negative stereotyping of migrants, Sunder Katwala said there is need for everyone involved in the debate to engage with the majority of people who are of the view that immigration is good for society. He said there is a great need to establish a common ground with this group. Sunder Katwala observed that people who are concerned with highlighting the voice of migrants should emphasize the need for citizens of the UK to pull together in an effort to find ways of creating jobs. He said migration activists should mention in every discourse on migration, that scapegoating migration will not create jobs. “It is the responsibility of the entire society to dispel discrimination and make migration work” he said. The director of British Futures argued that there is need to find ways of dealing with bigoted migration language, without falling into the trap of the abusers. Sunder Katwala further emphasised  the importance of working together to make migration work. The theme of the fourth Migrant Voice annual conference was “Immigration: From divisive rhetoric to inclusive debate ; what role for each of us?. The Channel  4 news home affairs correspondent, Simon Israel chaired the  'question time' session of the conference, where delegates to the conference where given the opportunity to put across their questions on migration to the expert panel.


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