A special issue on Migration for the European Anti Poverty Magazine

GMT 07:26 Friday ,02 July 2010

 Migrant Voice - A special issue on Migration for the European Anti Poverty Magazine

The European Anti Poverty Magazine produced by the European Anti Poverty Network in Brussels, dedicated a special edition in June on migration in Europe. The issue included contributions from some of the members of the 27 European countries’ network about the situation of migrants in their countries. Migrant Voice article focused on ‘Migrant Voice 2010 – Election Special’ newspaper and the importance of giving migrants a voice whilst exploring the media reporting of migrants in the UK. The magazine shows the different realities of migration in relation to poverty in Europe. It aims to give a picture of the EU legal framework on migration with an exploration of progressive steps that ensure integration of migrants with emphasis on access to their social right. There is also a focus on the migration work of EAPN members. Here is the article. England: Giving the voice to Migrants By Nazek Ramadan, Migrant Voice Director Migrants have to cope with negative media reporting across Europe, even more so at times of economic and social crisis when they are seen as the easiest prey to blame. ‘Migrant Voice’, a member organisation of EAPN UK, has launched a pre – election national newspaper, aiming to raise awareness and to dispel some of the myth surrounding migration and its impact on the UK society and economy. Media nurture negative perception and hostility towards migrants Migrant organisations are working in a very challenging environment, from the global financial crisis to the ongoing efforts of governments all over Europe to strengthen their borders and tighten their mmigration policies and procedures. Media play a key role in public opinion and, unfortunately, nurture negative perception and hostility towards migrants and refugees, picturing them as the “scroungers that are prepared to cross every border in Europe to reach the UK’s generous benefit system (…) the benefit cheats, (…) the beggars”. As Oxfam points out as well, the difficulties faced by asylum seekers and refugees are worsened by the severe prejudice they face caused by mainstream media which maintain poor public perceptions. This results in discrimination of people and an unwillingness to provide suitable state support to some of the most disadvantaged and poorest people in the UK. Migrants are spoken about, not heard Migrants are visible as groups, numbers and statistics, but only occasionally seen in other forms as the parent, the worker, the teacher, the doctor, the student, etc. They are often spoken about but not heard. News on asylum relies heavily on politicians, official figures and the police as sources of information and explanation. As a study by Cardiff School of Journalism highlighted, individual asylum seekers and refugees are rarely quoted themselves, particularly on discussion of policy. How can they hate us so much when they don’t even know us? However, migrant and refugee communities have become more organised and active in recent years, with many producing their own communication tools and strategies. Although many of them cannot understand the hostility expressed towards them in the media, migrants are well aware of the role of the media in shaping public attitude, and recognise that they have a role in influencing the media and whenever possible, in taking control over their own messages.Migrant Voice is just one example. Giving the voice to migrants in the run-up of elections Migrant Voice, named after its founding organisation, is a series of voices from and about migrants, to give them a chance to address the British public and correct the imbalance in the way migrants are represented across large parts of the media. Referring to the media, a migrant asked ‘Migrant Voice’: “How can they hate us so much when they don’t even know us?” If Migrant Voice aims primarily at raising awareness on migration, offering a platform for members of migrant communities, especially whose voices are not usually heard, it also provides an alternative position on the issue and advocates for more progressive policies. This issue ‘Migrant Voice 2010 – Election Special’ is especially important at the time of an election when many views on migration are expressed and used to advance various agendas without being challenged and without consultation from those most affected: the migrants themselves. Through a series of interviews, articles and features, the paper celebrates the contribution of migration to the UK and captures migrants’ ambitions with regard to their role in the economy, their integration and citizenship, and their aspirations for the future. It tells the stories of some of the most vulnerable amongst migrants and shares with the reader the pain and struggle that could have been avoided if some of the immigration policies were different. It also highlights the experiences of families and children in detention centres, the plight and exploitation of undocumented migrants, the effect of the ‘New Point Based System’ on students and workers, the impact of raids on businesses on the migrant communities, and many others. The paper attempts to answer as many questions as possible about the realities of migrants, their contribution, their entitlement, their treatment, and their dreams. Thousands of copies were distributed to politicians, public institutions, civil society organisations and migrant and other organisations across the UK. ‘Migrant Voice’ aims to transform how migrants are seen and heard in the media: from passive, disempowered and marginalised victims largely without a voice in the popular discourse, to makers of their own media content and messages.  

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