Diaspora and Migrant Voices: Demystifying Migration and Development

Diaspora and Migrant Voices: Demystifying Migration and Development

ICMC – International Catholic Migration Commission

Awareness-raising and coordination across public and civil society actors working on migration and development is essential and central to this project.

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Target countries and regions: Belgium, Turkey and France. Global dissemination in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas through Migration and Development Civil Society Network (MADE network)/partners.
Start date and end date of the Action: 1 August – 31 December 2015
Name of Co-applicant in the Action: Forum des Organisations de Solidarité Internationale issues des Migrations (FORIM), France

The project mainly developed, presented and disseminated the “Diaspora and migrant voices: 10 myths on migration and development” campaigning tool.

This publication provides European national and local civil society actors the necessary tools and arguments to (1) tackle misconceptions and simplifications that are prevalent in the migration and development debate and (2) hold open and public debates on the matter.

The tool was developed through various consultation processes:

(1) Among members of the CONCORD migration and development task force

(2) Among participants of the Civil Society Days of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Turkey which brought together a record number of more than 260 civil society leaders and networks from some 80 countries with over 100 representatives of governments and international organisations. Altogether, the 8th GFMD Summit Meeting brought together 260 representatives from civil society and around 600 delegates from 150 countries and 30 international organisations. President of FORIM Khady Sakho Niang was invited as a speaker in the session “Beyond xenophobia” of the GFMD, to present the “Diaspora and Migrant Voices: Demystifying Migration and Development” campaign. Thus, over 360 persons were reached out by the messages and recommendations of the project during the sessions and the recommendations were presented to over 800 participants during the Common space. 137 votes through a voting system concerning the tool’s counter-arguments and 10 written contributions were received during the GFMD and helped improve the tool.

(3) Among participants – 474 representatives of the NGOs, migrant-led organisations, public institutions, local authorities, as well as general public – of the RENAICODE 2015 (the National Meeting on Integration and Co-Development) in Paris.

Such processes resulted in broad engagement of a wide range of stakeholders including development, human rights, youth, labour organisations/networks and academia, local authorities, international organisations and government representatives, which greatly facilitated the dissemination of the tool.

To ensure the place of migrant and diaspora voices in the development of the tool, the drafting template included a “Migrant testimonies/Case studies” part. Thus, each paper presents a migrant’s experience which reinforces the counter-arguments and is a living proof of the positive contribution of migrants for the development of both countries of origin and receiving countries. Forty-four federations, networks and groupings of migrant led-organizations received the call for testimonies. It represents at least 1,000 migrant organizations. There was a significant contribution, experience and evidence from members from the diaspora as well as the involvement of non-European development actors in the activity.

The tool was officially launched at the RENAICODE in Paris in November 2015. During the panel, ICMC and the FORIM presented the awareness-raising tool, its objectives, approach and the use that can be made of it. In addition, a 2-day exhibition was organised, introducing the 10 myths in a creative way. Thus, each myth synthesizing the counter-arguments and a migrant testimony was presented on a separate panel. Besides that, two additional panels presenting the project partners and donors, as well as the project’s recommendations were created as part of the exhibition. The first results of the event’s online evaluation survey showed that this event helped to identify 19 organisations willing to disseminate the awareness-raising tool within their organisations or at a local level in France through different trainings, public debates or exhibitions. The number of the organisations interested in acquiring this tool will be updated on mid-February 2016 upon the survey’s closure (22 responses were received around the end of January). Moreover, the produced materials shared with CONCORD helped to identify 6 other NGOs willing to use the tool in 6 other European countries: Slovenia, Romania, Italy, Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands.

Linkages between the content of the tool and other instruments were sought all along the project. As a result, a specific recommendation on xenophobia was included in the joint African-European civil society statement for the Valletta Summit on Migration.

At least 2,000 migration and development actors received the joint civil society statement, including non-governmental organisations and platforms, African and European national delegations and European and African government representatives, all delegations participating in Valletta, international organisations and academics. Likewise, some recommendations contained in the statement were incorporated into the recommendations section of the myth. Such interaction between existing advocacy tools ensures that the campaigning tool is not the product of two organisations, but the result of a consultative process.

As a follow-up to this statement, ICMC Europe, Norwegian Refugee Council and Caritas Senegal co-organised, with the support of the European Commission, a one-day event entitled “Valletta Summit: Dialogue with civil society”, which took place in Brussels on 5th November 2015.

The event brought together the views of altogether 120 African and European representatives, including migrant and diaspora organisations (FORIM), policy-makers (EU Commission – DG DEVCO, ECHO, Luxembourg Presidency of the EU, Permanent Representation to the EU of Italy and Malta, African Union, Chair of the Khartoum Process and ECOWAS), international organisations (IOM, UNHCR), international NGOs (NRC, ICMC, MADE, Oxfam, Care, MSF, Save the Children, Médecins du Monde, ECRE, RMTMD, Amnesty International, PICUM, ICMPD) and  academics. During that event a specific panel focused on “shedding the light on the positive role of migrants and migration”.

During the GFMD Civil Society Days in Turkey, the photo exhibition entitled “Untold stories: migrants’ contribution to human and economic development” was also showcased for the second time. This exhibition gathers 11 photographs that bring to light to the too often untold and unheard stories of migration.

During the European Year of Development 2015, September was devoted to migration and demography. MADE network participated by contributing a weekly story, each time highlighting key aspects of migration and development. These stories were combined with powerful images, entered in the May 2015 photo competition related to the above mentioned exhibition. You can find the stories here:

The Global Forum of Migration and Development (GFMD) served as a good opportunity to intensify our efforts towards changing public perceptions about the migration realities. Thus, in order to effectively inform FORIM members, institutional partners and donors (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, French Development Agency, etc.) about the activities implemented in the framework of the project, FORIM created the GFMD newsletter, a communication tool which was largely disseminated through its web page, mailing lists and social networks. Thus, 4 issues of the 2-3 pages newsletter were issued and disseminated by email to around 1,000 migrant-led grassroots associations structured in 42 federations and groups of  FORIM members representing around 20 diasporas from Northern  and Sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and Caribbean region and 15 inter-diasporas networks. Besides, the newsletter was viewed by around 2,000 web visitors who support and follow FORIM activities through its web page and social networks, such as the Facebook page. Please find these newsletters below:
In the GFMD, among other recommendations, Khady Sakho Niang, President of FORIM, insisted on the importance of such campaigns as Diaspora and migrant voices project, more now than ever, in order to change the public perception on migration and migrants. She also underlined the fact that migrants’ voices have to be raised and their positive contributions promoted, to both territories of origin and destination. Saying that, citizen mobilization and support to such awareness raising campaigns by authorities was at the centre of her intervention. They indeed appear to be the best ways to positively change public opinion and public policies impacting on migrants.

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