How to focus communication towards migrants during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The current outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 is, above all, a health problem. However, it also has unprecedented consequences for mobility, as it has involved changes in the management of migration and borders, and in the situations of migrants.

IOM staff are working to respond to this public health emergency from a mobility perspective, taking as a reference among other things the experience gained in previous emergency situations, such as the Ebola outbreak. IOM also works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Network on Migration to ensure the integration of migration and health concerns throughout the United Nations system.

To ensure that mobility is taken into account in public health messages, and that migrants and mobile communities have access to timely, context-specific and correct information, partners in the Risk Communication and Community Engagement network (RCCE) have proposed a series of guidelines:

Culturally and linguistically adapted communication messages: This involves providing technical guidance and other tools to ensure that migrants are included in national, regional and global outreach campaigns.

Community engagement activities: By communicating with communities and receiving feedback along mobility corridors, entry points, and between migrant and mobile population networks, including travel agencies, tour operators, employers, and recruiters.

Adapted psychological first aid for pandemics: It is necessary to develop the capacity of health workers and other actors, using previous models developed for outbreaks such as Ebola.

Information on good hygiene practices: In this type of situation, it is vital to incorporate health recommendations through the development and dissemination of information and educational communication materials adapted to the needs of migrants and related communities.

Consultations with communities and local associations: This includes associations led by women, organizations of persons with disabilities, children, students or youth networks, and so on... Strengthening their participation and community outreach efforts allows for improved accountability for affected populations.

Prevention and recovery of violence, discrimination and xenophobia: This must be created through community participation by promoting messages and activities of social cohesion.

Cross-border awareness raising: It is suggested that this type of effort is supported at the community level in close coordination with municipal authorities in border communities, as well as by training municipal officials and community members on prevention and preparedness measures, using appropriate medical and physical precautions.

Repository of products and practices for inclusive communications for migrants: As well as the development and translation of standard messages for migrants on recommended measures and rights of assistance. Along these lines, the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean has developed communication materials regarding COVID-19 and populations on the move which are constantly being uploaded to the Regional Knowledge Hub on Migration. These materials are free to download.

Commitment of migration authorities: Due to its characteristics, powers and scope, it is necessary to involve and secure the commitment of migration authorities to support communication activities against COVID-19 at border points, such as by disseminating information, as well as advice on prevention and when/how to seek medical care for travelers.

It is possible that in the short term and in the most affected countries, migrants are exposed to many vulnerabilities, maybe even more than nationals. For this reason, working on effective communication to minimize the impact and strengthen ties with the migrant population and authorities and actors close to said population, will be a necessary baseline to face the pandemic.


Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues

Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Guest Contributor

Radio is still a medium that, especially in rural areas where access to the Internet is difficult, is still very much alive and shows itself to be an accessible alternative for the population. Whether in the car, in an app on the phone or in a device that only works with batteries in the most remote areas, the radio is there a few steps away and almost effortlessly. Entertaining us, informing us and accompanying our daily activities. From the largest cities to the most sparsely populated municipalities, radio is an industry that generates jobs and is vital for the dissemination of mass messages to a wide variety of audiences.

How can radio be harnessed as an avenue to empower young people about migration?

After seeing the high impact that this media has on the culture of our communities, these are some actions to be taken that will allow us to bring the message of regular, orderly and safe migration to a youth who may be victims of crimes associated with irregular migration:

  • Find out about community radio or radio stations in your city: This will help you to know all the spaces that exist within the community and to identify the audiences they are aimed at in order to choose the right channel that connects with young people.
  • Identify young leaders in their communities with communication skills: There is no better way to communicate with youth than through voices they can empathize with and identify with.
  • Create content that connects: Talking about migration does not require a serious or monotonous tone. Try to create short but effective messages with easy to understand language and prioritizing the use of storytelling instead of communicating concepts.
  • Create your own online radio station: The radio has undergone a significant evolution in recent years and proof of this is that the number of Internet radio stations has been increasing, which has led to the democratization of radio. You no longer need big budgets to have your own radio station and broadcast different contents 24 hours a day, this is a good alternative if there are not or do not have access to have space on traditional radio stations.
  • Develop empowering initiatives: Young people possess many talents: dynamism, fast learning and, of course, a lot of creativity. Therefore generating training spaces on radio production issues will help to discover hidden talents and form new opinion leaders, without leaving behind the importance of also empowering them on migration issues, this will allow them to transmit better messages that promote a safe, orderly and regular human mobility and will help them themselves to make better decisions regarding migration.

A success story of such activities is 'Youth on the Airwaves', a workshop on radio and migration that harnesses the energy of young people who are leaders in their communities and shows them the potential of the radio industry as a method of generating livelihoods and making their voices heard.

As a product of this initiative, the young people created their own radio spots to promote a better informed migration, from the ideation of the creative concept, script development, voice-over practice, recording and editing, in all these processes they received the support of both IOM staff and a team of experts in radio production.

A few years ago, former United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon stressed that "radio is very important to make the voice of youth heard, it stimulates the imagination and shortens the distances between people". One more reason to bring the media closer and generate spaces for youth in order to disseminate messages aimed at providing the population with sufficient and verified information that will allow them to make better decisions before embarking on a migratory route.