Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

Worried by the growing negative public perception about the issues of migration across the globe, the Federal Government has reiterated its support to migration, saying that it should be seen as positive development, bringing new skills, energy, perspective and experiences.

Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Sadiya Umar- Farouq, stated this when the commission in partnership with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) organized a two-day media capacity building workshop within the framework of Nigerian-Swiss Partnership on Migration under the project: Consolidating the Migration Coordination Architecture in Nigeria, phase2.

Declaring the workshop open, Umar- Farouq noted that a great deal of media reports erroneously criminalize migrants by linking asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants with insecurity, social-cultural and economic threats.

“In the past few years and presently, immigration issue is dominating the global political discourse and the negative narrative being construed through the mass media is burdened with fear and prejudice which makes it toxic. Migration has become associated with some adverse effect to countries which include undue pressure on local jobs, social security and services as well as lifestyles and social fabric of host communities.

“Migration should be seen as positive development, bringing new skills, energy, perspective and experiences to their new homes,” she said.

Represented at the workshop by the Director of Migration and Refugees in the commission, Amb.Lawal Mohammed Hamidu, she said migration has been part of the history of mankind and should not be misunderstood, as, “In view of the driving forces in the intercontinental and interdependent world, migration is inevitable,” she said.

She urged the media to always speak for the migrants even as he enjoined them to educate the youth on the dangers of irregular migration and the opportunities for migration in the regular way. She also commended the SDC and indeed all development partners associated with the mandate of the commission.

The Migration Adviser, Embassy of Switzerland to Nigeria, Jolanda Pfister Herren, speaking at the workshop said migration did jump to the top of the news agenda since 2015, with journalists in Europe, Middle East and Africa, reporting the biggest mass movement of people around the world in recent history even as television screens and newspapers were filled with stories about appalling loss of lives and suffering of thousands of people escaping conflicts, war and poverty.

She stressed the need for the media to strike a balance between economic, partisan and humanitarian motivations in covering migration in an honest but less sensationalistic way.