WACC to help migrants exercise their communication rights

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A boy takes a selfie on a mobile phone as people gather around a fire inside a refugee processing centre in the Serbian village of Presevo, not far from the Macedonian border.  Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance 

WACC  announces the launch of a new programmatic focus as part of our efforts to promote communication for all. The new Communication Rights and Migration Programme seeks to enable migrants and host communities to access vital information, promote intercultural dialogue, challenge discrimination, and advance a rights-based narrative of migration. 

In 2020/2021, WACC will be working with four partners in Latin America and the Middle East to develop 12-18 month long projects that can help meet some of the most pressing communication and information needs experienced by migrants and can serve as models for similar interventions in other contexts. Thanks to the generosity of Bread for the World- Germany, the following projects will receive technical and financial support from WACC. 

  • * Strengthening Community-Based Media Reporting on Migration in the Ecuador-Colombia Border, implemented by Coordinadora de Medios Comunitarios Populares y Educativos del Ecuador CORAPE. This project seeks to establish a network of migration-focused citizen reporters hailing from 11 community media outlets in the border between Colombia and Venezuela, which  has become a major corridor for Venezuelan migrants and Colombian internally displaced people. 

  • * Empowering Syrians in Jordan through Media, implemented by Community Media Network. This project will equip 15 members of the Syrian community in Jordan with skills and resources to share their community’s stories with the broader society via five  community radio stations across the country. 

  • * Migrant Voices: Freedom of Expression & Access to Information in Mexico, implemented by La Sandia DigitalThis initiative seeks to empower Central American migrants, particularly women, young and Indigenous people, with skills and rights-based knowledge to use digital and other communication tools. This will help them to access needed information, challenge xenophobic discourse, and share their concerns within their communities and with the wider society. The project will engage migrants in transit and at destination in Mexico City and Mexico State. 

This work will complement WACC’s ongoing multi-year efforts to respond to the communication and information needs of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, an initiative carried out thanks to the support of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). 

Lorenzo Vargas, a WACC programme manager who is overseeing this initiative,  underscored the importance of responding to the communication needs of migrants, noting that the number of international migrants reached an estimated 272 million in 2019. 

“As migration and displacement have increased, so has media coverage, not all positive, said Vargas. “Media reports have led to increased anxiety and hostility among nationalist and populist politicians as well as other domestic and international actors. 

He added that at a time of rampant disinformation and misinformation, migration is becoming a lightning rod for xenophobic groups who seek to undermine trust in public institutions, including the media. 

The ability of migrants and refugees to make themselves heard in their host societies and contribute to the public discourse on migration is also “severely curtailed by linguistic, cultural, economic, and political factors, which in turn further impoverishes public debate,” added Vargas.” In most cases, migrants have next to no avenues to contribute to the public conversation on migration, despite being at the centre of it. 

In addition to receiving support from WACC, the abovementioned organizations will be invited to attend regional or international events such as the Forum on Migration and Development, in order to share their experiencesincluding knowledge and skills gained 

 Projects supported under this theme align with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16– Peace, Justice, and Strong InstitutionsSDG 10– Reduced Inequalities, as well as with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda. They will also align with the goals of the UN Global Compact for Migration, particularly objective 17: “Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration”. 

WACC is an international organization that promotes communication as a basic human right, essential to people’s dignity and community.  WACC works with all those denied the right to communicate because of status, identity, or gender. It advocates full access to information and communication, and promotes open and diverse media. WACC strengthens networks of communicators to advance peace, understanding and justice.