Two groups of journalists from Somaliland and Puntland have concluded a one-day workshop in Hargeisa and Bosasso on mixed migration flows in the Horn of Africa.
These workshops are part of a broader IOM programme to strengthen the protection of, and emergency assistance to, irregular migrants and asylum seekers from Somalia and Ethiopia who travel through Somaliland, Puntland and Djibouti.
Recent statistics have shown that arrivals of Ethiopian and Somali migrants in Yemen are at an all time high in the first seven months of 2012 as per arrival statistics compiled by UNHCR since 2006. The flow migrants from the Horn of Africa, particularly from Ethiopia, moving across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea towards Yemen continues to rise. From January to July 2012, more than 63,800 migrants travelled along this dangerous route compared to 48,700 persons during the same time last year. This is a 30 per cent increase from 2011, which was also a record year with more than 103,000 arrivals by sea to Yemen.
In previous years, Somali refugees have constituted between a quarter and a third of all arrivals to Yemen. From January to July this year only one-in-six of those arriving in Yemen were Somali nationals. While the number of Somalis making the crossing remains relatively stable, the number of Ethiopians continues to rise with more than 51,000 this year alone.
The vast majority are crossing the Red Sea from Obock, Djibouti, with the remainder crossing the Arabian Sea from Somaliland and Puntland.
These individuals, driven by political unrest and extreme poverty face not only dangers at sea but also physical risks, harassment and discrimination during their journey on land.
Recognising that the media play a fundamental role in drawing attention to the plight of mixed migrants as well as in creating understanding and solidarity towards them, IOM together with the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) in September 2012 carried out two one-day workshops for 14 journalists in Hargeisa, Somaliland and for 18 journalists in Bosasso, Puntland State of Somalia, that sought to improve journalistic standards and promote accurate and informative coverage of mixed migration issues by the Somali news media.
"By accurately and objectively informing the public about why migrants decide to leave their homes and about their rights and protection needs, journalists can play a key role in the promotion and dissemination of migrant rights," said IOM Mixed Migration Regional Coordinator Craig Murphy.
The training, which was funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (PRM) and the Swiss Government, aimed to further the media's understanding of migration dynamics in the region, with a view to promoting partnerships for informed and balanced reporting on the realities of mixed migration.
Participating young journalists voiced their appreciation for the in-depth training on mixed migration stating: “We heard a lot about the history of migration and statistics and the dangers that migrants face when trying to get to Yemen by boat, but the most important thing was to learn about the difference between smuggling and trafficking. We didn’t know the difference before and always used the wrong terms. Now we will think twice when I write our stories.”