ILO, IGAD urge journalists to enhance reporting on labour migration in the IGAD region

News | 13 September 2022
ADDIS ABABA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with funding from EU through the FMPT project conducted a three-day workshop for journalists and communicators in the IGAD Region.

The workshop aimed at sensitizing media professionals on the issue of labour migration in the region and urged them to enhance their communicating and reporting on issues pertaining to labour migration.

It was noted that there’s need to step up efforts to respond to and address current and emerging challenges of labour migration through regular communication and reporting on the topic. With this in mind, the ILO and IGAD organized the training to make sure media professionals get a better understanding of the labour migration dynamics in the region.
“The ILO’s desirable international order for labour migration is one where people migrate by choice and not by necessity; and where those who migrate for work enjoy full labour and human rights as well as decent working conditions”, said Ephrem Getnet, Chief Technical Advisor at the ILO while speaking during the opening session of the workshop.  

The ILO provides support to its Member States to formulate, or implement evidence based, rights-centered, gender-responsive labour migration policies that protect migrant workers.

However, according to Ephrem, a review of coverage of labour migration in the media in the IGAD region shows limited media coverage about the topic. In many cases reporting on labour migration and migration in the region is found to be incident based for example capsizing of a boat or death of a migrant worker or ad hock awareness raising programs on TVs, Radios and print media.

“We believe a well-informed media can positively influence public opinion and policy making to improve the living and working conditions of migrant workers and their families and enhance the impact of labour migration on development of countries of origin and countries of destination,” he added.

    Madam Fathia Alwan, the Director of IGAD Health & Social Development, said, “the media plays an irreversible role in influencing policy decisions, investigating challenges, preventing abuses and promoting regular and safe labour mobility management. “The media can also play a positive role in informing potential migrants, migrants, migrants’ families and returnees about the challenges and opportunities across the migration cycle.”

The Director reiterated, IGAD’s commitment to engage the media in the region as one of the stakeholders to share knowledge on labour migration and provide resources to the media professionals and thereby improve the level of communicating and reporting on labour migration issues.

Bernard Francois, Head of Cooperation of the EU in Djibouti said, “this region [IGAD] is a source and route for migration where migrants are highly vulnerable to human traffickers and the press plays a powerful role in doing a balanced report of what’s happening. We are committing support to the cause to help people in this region.” 

Charles Autheman, an independent consultant who facilitated the workshop, stressed the importance of media collaboration in covering stories about migration as an emerging beat in journalism. He pointed out that while African media is covering the abuse of migrant workers in the Middle East, the media there carries stories accusing migrant workers of committing crimes. “Journalists and communicators need to be accurate, balanced and objective when covering migrant workers' stories”, he added.

One of the trainees, Sandra Wangari of Kenya said, “Migrant workers are of great impact to economies of countries of origin and countries of destinations, making the migration a win-win for the worker and the countries involved. Once policies and regulations are in place, the general protection of migrant workers will be better, increasing their productivity and the general perception around Labour Migration. We still have a long way to go but we cannot ignore the efforts that have been put in place up to date to ensure the rights of migrant workers are applied.” She added, “as a communication person, I need to increase the stories covered on labour migration, from all angles, to change the narrative”.

The ILO FMPT project which is funded by EU aims to improve opportunities for regulated labour mobility and decent work within the IGAD countries through the development of models of intervention, in the broader context of the regional integration. In the long-term, it is expected to extend decent work opportunities to current and potential migrants within the region, as well as contribute to regional integration, strengthen the link between economic growth and job growth, and enhance the social and economic integration of migrants.

IGAD is a trade bloc in the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes having Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South-Sudan, Sudan and Uganda as member states. It is headquartered in Djibouti.