6021 The Communication Initiative, The Drum Beat 567 – Migration, November 15 2010

The Drum Beat 567 – Migration

November 15 2010


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The causes of migration and the transition itself – changes for both people left behind (often the very old and the very young) and people struggling to survive transit and resettlement – are the topic of this issue of The Drum Beat. Since the days of my close friendship with a teenager who left her family and walked across the Rio Grande River between Mexico and the United States in 1989, I have had a growing interest in how communication affects individuals and their families enduring this transition and how societies are using communication technologies to cope with the challenges that population movement presents. Portions of this Drum Beat look at: how we advocate for migrants and how they advocate for themselves; how their information needs are supported; how the media characterise immigrants; and how the experience of immigrants differs by locality, gender, ethnicity, and education.

In addition, a critical challenge related to population movement is xenophobia. Included here is a body of summaries on how South Africa has been dealing with xenophobia. These examples show active civil society participation in addressing xenophobia in a manner that is both national and local and has immediacy through a diversity of communication strategies.

If you have knowledge of a project on migration that might be added to The CI archive, please send it to drumbeat@comminit.com Thank you.


Julie Levy






The book Transnational Migration and the Politics of Identity, from the series entitled Women and Migration in Asia, highlights the gendered dimension of migration, focusing on Asian women’s experience of immigration and the impact this has on their identity. Labour and women’s migration, with a Euro-centric focus, is the theme of Women’s Labour Migration in the Context of Globalization. The ways that migrant women learn to adapt to a new work environment despite barriers of language and culture is the subject of Informal Learning of Highly Educated Immigrant Women in Contingent Work, which surveys how educated immigrant women in Canada learn on the job and what that implies for state policies. HIV/AIDS is a particular concern in migratio! n situations because factors such as loneliness, separation from regular partners, higher income, peer pressure, and freedom from the control of families and social norms may leave mobile people (who numbered approximately 214 million in mid-year 2010, according to United Nations Population Division estimates) at higher risk. These factors are examined more closely in the 2006 review of Family Health International’s programming in Asia, Protecting People on the Move: Applying Lessons Learned in Asia to Improve HIV/AIDS Interventions of Mobile People.





Looking from-the-outside-in is the challenge of those who have no need to leave their home country. Chasing Dreams is both a comic book and facilitator’s guide designed to raise awareness of the challenges facing migrants, mobile workers, and the communities with whom they interact – in particular, the challenges related to their vulnerability to HIV. And from some of those who are attempting to educate the United States (US) population on the conditions of deportation of migrants, the online I Can End Deportation (ICED) Game is focused on youth. Its users were surveyed to determine changes in ICED! game players’ knowledge and attitudes about US immigration and deportation policies due to game play, with results available in: Evaluation of Breakthrough’s ICED! Video Game.

The conference «Media on the Move: Migrants, Minorities and the Media», held September 25-27 2008, in Bonn, Germany, focused in 3 sections on migration and ethnic minority media coverage within Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and South-Eastern Europe. Special attention was paid to concrete experiences regarding the strengthening of ethnic and diversity media and the potentials as well as the limits of Diaspora media. If we assume that the media contribute to local attitudes on immigrants, the monitoring of media for how issues of race, ethnicity, migrants, racism, and xenophobia are represented in community and small commercial newspapers becomes a tool for guarding good practices in media and tracking its approaches, as is suggested in Race and Migration in the Community Media: Local Stories, Common Stereotypes.


(Have examples of how communication and media influences the experiences of immigrants? Please send them to drumbeat@comminit.com)



Annual Campaign: 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence


Each year from November 25 to December 10, participants use the «16 Days of Action against Gender Violence» campaign as an organising strategy to call for elimination of all forms of violence against women (VAW). The dates that organisers chose for the campaign are meant to indicate a symbolic link between VAW and violation of human rights: November 25 marks the International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10 is International Human Rights Day.


For MORE on this annual communication-centred campaign, please see:





Communication tools are used to inform both those staying home and those leaving home. The array of tools and their uses for migrant-to-source community, family, and Diaspora communication is explored in Information and Communication Technologies and Migration. This 2009 UNDP research paper includes aspects like «brain gain» – migrants returning home as technology entrepreneurs, mobile banking for remittance transfers, and governments creating Migration Information Centres to publicise employment opportunities abroad and offer internet connection and social safety net information service to exiting migrants.

In further examples of communication media supporting migrant information needs, Internews seeks to address the information needs of women refugees from Darfur and Sudan living in camps in eastern Chad through a radio programme, Women’s Crossroads. Internews also initiated Radio Sila as a response to the large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Goz Beida, Chad. Its programmes are designed to inform and empower listeners, enable families and friends separated by crises to maintain human bonds across the border, and provide practical information about resources and opportunities available. Developing Communication Strategies: International Organization for Migration (IOM) presents tools and strategies that have t! raditionally been used as the main delivery channels for information campaigns – both to deliver information to migrants and to raise awareness about migration. The evaluation Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) Post Implementation Study compares research results against a baseline to measure the effectiveness of a 2006-2007 facilitated repatriation of 110,000 Liberian refugees. It evaluates the role of Search for Common Ground in ensuring that refugees were aware of their options regarding repatriation and had enough information about development in Liberia and their communities to support their decision to return home.

Immigrants often show surprising resilience and, with or without local or national support, self-organise for advocacy. I came across some specific examples of this within the US. TheBinational Front of Indigenous Organizations [Frente Indígena Oaxaqueño Binacional (FIOB)] is a community-based migrant rights organisation made up of indigenous peoples – most of whom are migrants from isolated communities in the most remote mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico – living in Mexico or the US. National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) is a US-based alliance, composed of local coalitions and immigrant, refugee, community, religious, civil rights, and labour organisations and activists, which engages in advocacy efforts to the end of promoting a just immigration and refugee policy. Building Immigrant Community Power Through Legislative Advocacy is an advocacy workshop module for immigrant and refugee communities to examine the power dynamics of policymaking in the US and investigate how immigrant and refugee organisations can impact its policies and laws.


(Know of examples of self-organised advocacy for immigrants in other countries? Send todrumbeat@comminit.com)



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Singling out a country to address the issue of xenophobia is deeply unfair, since xenophobia is a problem wherever migrants are received, but I have done so, in the case of South Africa, because the problem has been addressed by communication projects that, for me, are noteworthy.Towards Tolerance, Law, and Dignity: Addressing Violence against Foreign Nationals in South Africa discusses the violence against foreign nationals which occurred in South Africa in May 2008. It outlines the political economy of violence against outsiders and the immediate triggers and factors that exacerbated the translation of xenophobic attitudes into the violent attacks. It follows its analysis with recommendations that are designed to counter xenophobic tendencies and reduce the risk of future violence.

Launched in May 2010, Hotel Yeoville is an online community and public art project that works to address themes of forced migration and the threat of xenophobia through uploaded videos, photos and stories – experiences, loves, losses, gains, dreams, and desires – to help build a social map of Yeoville, a community that is 70% migrants and refugees. The One Movement Campaign is a social change project that seeks to change negative attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate discriminatory practices related to xenophobia, racism, and tribalism using mass media, community conversations, youth mobilisation, curriculum interventions, and human rights training. To address community violence and the increasing number of attacks against migrants, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is implementing Community Conversations to Promote Social Cohesion by arranging meetings in a safe place where host and migrant communities can come together to discuss the challenges they face, while at the same time looking for sustainable solutions.

Soccer and music can reach a population that is young and growing to become a force in civil society. Soccer for Re-integration, part of the «One Man Can» project of Sonke Gender Justice, initiated a street soccer festival, hoping to foster dialogue between foreigners and South Africans living in Khayelitsha, near Cape Town. The street soccer festival also included entertainment by popular musicians who passed along messages of unity and tolerance. The 2008 project Music Against Xenophobia, by CMFD (Community Media for Development) Productions, brought together musicians from South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe to write and record songs and produce a CD about xenophobia. The lyrics of the songs were based on research interviews conducted with 100 migrants from all over the continent about their experiences in Sou! th Africa. The music reached the public through distribution in public taxis (combis).


(Know of other xenophobia projects in South Africa? What about other countries? Send them through! drumbeat@comminit.com)



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