Reporting migration

Date: April 6, 2010
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The first article describes how migration can be effectively used to benefit both sending and host areas. The other discusses whether Zimbabweans in South Africa are economic or political migrants.

These articles may be used to:
– Discuss human rights and health issues facing migrants
– Discuss stereotypes about migrants
– Discuss media coverage of migration issues, and demonstrate the broad range of issues that can be covered.
– Demonstrate how opinion pages can be used to highlights issues often not covered by journalist

Articles analysed
– Migration a vital tool for development, The Star
– Persecuted at home, rejected in South Africa, The Star, 30 September 2009

Trainer’s notes
The turn of the 21st Century has seen an increase in wars, civil strife, economic hardship, and other forms of unrest, which has resulted in growing number of forced migrants. In Southern Africa, this often means migration to South Africa. This unplanned increase in population challenges the government, in terms of providing essential services for the migrants. Competition for resources between migrants and nationals has been the catalyst for xenophobia and racism.

The opinion article “Migration a vital tool for development” seeks to highlight the positive impact of migration. Contrary to beliefs that migration is a threat to development, the article argues that is actually a vital tool for development, not only for the sending but recipient areas as well. People often migrate in search of a better economic climate. Those who migrate are usually of a productive age group, who normally send remittances back home while in the process contributing to the development of their host areas. The article also notes that in South Africa the skills brought in by migrants could be used to fill in critical skills shortages, especially in the areas of maths and science. A fact recognised by a study by the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa) The article also highlights that migrants often advance their education and contribute to the reduction of ills such as child mortality rates.

The writers encourage host areas to keep a register of migrants in their areas, which will in turn give an indication of the skills possessed by migrants in those areas. This also goes a long way in ensuring a coordinated control of migration. The article goes a long in challenging a general predisposition that migrants do little, if any to develop host areas. The article can also be used as a good example of a well balanced piece of writing. It highlights both the good and bad of migration, noting that while migration should not be treated as inherently bad it dos not mean that it does not have its negative.

The second article, “Persecuted at home, rejected in South Africa” raises the issue of political versus economic refugees, using the case of Zimbabweans in South Africa. The article makes for interesting analysis in drawing a line between political and economic migrants. According to the South African government most Zimbabweans fall outside the ambit of refugee protection, because they are economic refugees’ not political refugees which are recognised by the Refugee Act No 130 of 1998. However scholars are divided on this with some arguing that this response is “convenient “as the government of South Africa does not want to commit itself to protecting asylum seekers from Zimbabwe due to their numbers. One wonders the extent to which such overt statements from the government play in influencing negative attitudes towards asylum seekers.

One might argue that the government might be forwarding the argument that Zimbabweans are economic migrants as a means of diverting scrutiny response to forced migration. Instead of protecting asylum seekers, the government largely excludes them and a views them as a security threat. The article is praiseworthy for giving an insight into the process of lodging an asylum claim. This goes a long way into teaching asylum seekers (who are often not informed of the asylum application process, despite this being core to the process)

The article can also be used to highlight an example of good photography. The two refugees in the story can hardly be recognised. Protecting the identities of refugees and migrants in line with the UNICEF guidelines on reporting on displaced people.

Discussion Questions
– What are the challenges for migrants in South Africa? What challenges does the influx of people pose for the government?
– What are some of the stereotypes around migrants? How can these be challenged?
– Does media cover migration issues well?

Training exercises

– In groups ask migrants to list positives and how these can be effectively used for the benefit of both sending and host areas. Ask participants to list the negatives of migration and how best to deal with these.
– Brainstorm angles for reporting on migration, write commentary articles on these.
– Carry out voice pox interviews to determine people’s views on migration.
– Identify a group of migrants and ask them to contribute their May 2008 xenophobic violence experiences to the ‘I Stories’

Other training resources

Protecting Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants in South Africa (1998)




Download : 11100_migration_a_vital_tool_for_development_newspaper_article_(2).doc

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