By Aderogba George
An NGO, Light-up Africa Development Initiative, (LADI) has said that it will support the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, (UNESCO) to strengthen access to information on migration issues.

A statement by Mr Daniel Neaeze, LADI Project Officer, said that the support was under the organisation’s project tagged “Empowering young people in Africa, through media and communication”.

He stated that the project was aimed at supporting professional and ethical journalism and developing media capacities with financial support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

According to him, the project is also aimed at improving the capacities of the media personnel and development, to guarantee sensitive reportage, and safety of journalists in the context of the implementation of the UN Plan of Action.

He added that the UN plan of action among others, included the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, endorsed in April, 2012 by the UN Chief Executives Board, the highest level coordination mechanism of the body.

“Reporting migration issues have continued to jump to the top of the news in most of the media houses in recent times, with journalists in Europe, Middle East and Africa reporting the biggest mass movement of people around the world in recent history.

“Every year, millions of African youths leave their homes in search of a better life, especially in neighboring countries.

“According to the UN, among the 32 million African migrants scattered around the world in 2015, almost nine million (28% of the total) live in Europe.

“Associated legal–policy frameworks must start with an understanding of fundamental metrics as relation to information access and accurate reportage.

“In line with UNESCO’s mandate on access to information, LADI will support UNESCO under the project to strengthen access to information on migration,’’ he said.

Neaeze said the UN plan on reporting migration issues, was adopted at its 68th Session on Dec.18, 2013, by its General Assembly.

It says that the media has a vast influence on the formation of a broad image and perception of migrants, as well as the public and migration itself.

According to him, ethics and standards, which the journalism profession requires, can be seen as restrictive and is exemplified in the COVID-19 pandemic reportage, which he said, accelerated negative economic and press freedom trends.

He stated that this simply meant that many media and journalists might need support to produce the kind of journalism audiences could trust, especially as related to migration issues, hence the need to make the information available to them.

According to him, in the realm of the new media, there should be purposeful action on how to reinforce migration media reporting, by explaining migration terminology, underlining respect for human dignity, challenging hate speech, ensuring balanced coverage and others.

He called on the  media industry on the need to reach consensus and define appropriate guideline in its reporting, as well as adherence to the ethical principles.

According to him, there is also need for collective and coordinated action from all stakeholders, like the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Nigeria Press Council, regulators and journalism support groups, to adhere to the rules and report migration issues comprehensively. (NAN)

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