Today, more than 80% of African migration is internal to the African continent and involves nearly 19 million people, including 6.7 million in West Africa and 3.5 million in Central Africa. Women represent 47.1% and young people between 15 and 24 years of age 16% of migrants. Unfortunately, media capacities to cover migration are relatively weak; media content often provide inaccurate description of migration factors and scarce migrant stories or focus on migration risks, thus often misrepresenting migrants.
In this context, UNESCO launches a new project “Empowering Youth in Africa through Media and Communication”, supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The project aims to empower the people in West and Central Africa, in particular youth and women, by building the capacity of media to produce informed, verified and balanced coverage of migration-related issues and reinforcing the safety of journalists.
On Monday 13 May 2019, the official launch ceremony of the project took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The event was opened by Mr. Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information; Ms. Emanuela Del Re, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy; and Mr. Firmin Edouard Matoko, Assistant Director-General for Priority Africa and External Relations. Participants also included representatives of UNESCO and of Permanent Delegations from the Africa Regional Group, as well as other key stakeholders from West and Central Africa.
In his opening speech, Mr. Moez Chakchouk stressed that “being well-informed means being an enlightened and critical citizen, capable of being an active member of one’s community and country. This is why public, private and especially community media must be strengthened to foster a better understanding of migration”.
During her speech, Ms. Emanuela Del Re stated that “information plays a crucial role in migration issues in Africa”. For Ms. Del Re, “the project responds to the need to properly inform this youth so that the decision to migrate is the result of a free and responsible choice”.
Mr. Firmin Edouard Matoko emphasized that “the project we are launching today is part of UNESCO’s ongoing action to benefit Africa in general, and more specifically the empowerment of young people through the media for safe migration.”
This project will involve eight countries: Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. It will contribute to the implementation of UNESCO’s Strategy for the Sahel: gender equality, media development and Priority Africa. Young women from the media and communication sectors of the target countries will be involved, and particular attention will be paid to the production of editorial content on young migrant women, who are among the least represented groups of migrant populations.
In line with African Union’s Agenda 2063, the project is consistent with the Migration Policy Framework for Africa, which calls for, among other strategic actions, access to accurate information on labor migration, both before departure and after arrival, including conditions of employment, remedies and access to legal advice in the event of[human rights] violations.
The project also responds to SDG 16.10, which aims to guarantee public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
Finally, this initiative contributes to several objectives of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, including eliminating all forms of discrimination and encouraging evidence-based public debate to change the way migration is perceived; providing accurate information at all stages of migration; and empowering migrants and societies for full integration and social cohesion.