05.06.2018 Print

Guests at workTraditionally, number of events dedicated to World Refugee Day are taking place. A seminar for representatives of national communities and journalists was held from May 31 till June 2, 2018. The event was organized by INA "Evolutio" with the support of the UNHCR Office in the Republic of Belarus. There was an active discussion of topical issues of persons under the UNHCR mandate. Together a number of initiatives were developed to attract the attention of modern society to refugees, stateless persons, forced migrants.

The seminar was aimed at discussing the problems of correct coverage of issues of forced migration and refugees, tolerance and intercultural relations; discussing and developing of joint initiatives and solutions to refugee issues; formation of tolerant attitude towards them; establishment of relations and contacts between representatives of national communities and journalists.

Representatives of national communities, UNHCR PoCs took part in the seminar. There were representatives from Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Armenia, etc. Journalists from Minsk and regions took part in seminar: TV and Radio company «Gomel», Minsk journal CityDog.by, Belarusian Information Company BelaPAN, socio-political journal «Planeta», newspaper «7 days», BelTA, etc. Jean-Yves Bouchardy, UNHCR Representative in the Republic of Belarus, was the guest of the event. He delivered a speech at the opening ceremony.

Jean-Yves BouchardyIn his speech, J.-I. Bouchardy welcomed the participants noting that the UN Refugee Agency is mandated to help persons fleeing war and persecution around the world. The mission is simple: to make sure forcibly displaced people can live in safety. Through mass media, we become witnesses to crises all over the world – Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Afganistan, Somalia, etc. Also J.-I. Bouchardy paid attention to statistics: as of 1 May 2018, the Republic of Belarus hosted 8600 persons of concern to UNHCR, more than 6000 of whom are stateless people. As of 31 May 2018, some 400 (398) persons applied for asylum in 2018, with the two largest groups being Ukrainians and Syrians. At the end of speech J.-I. Bouchardy expressed gratitude to the long-standing partners and experts for their work in facilitating this seminar, and wished a insightful discussion.

In his welcoming speech, Professor Viktor Shadurski, Head of the INA "Evolutio" Observation Board, stressed the need for a talented presentation of the problems of refugees, issues of tolerant attitude of Belarusians towards foreigners representing other cultures. This means that our society expects, on the one hand, honest materials, and on the other hand, humanistic, that is, aimed at understanding, compassion and cooperation. It is impossible to generalize the negative cases with the refugee community as a whole, transfer the unlawful actions of units to many. The seminar is designed to allow representatives of the media and communities of foreigners to get to know each other, discuss topics of interest. We hope that according to the results of frank discussions in the press there will be new topics, new subjects, new portraits.

Further on the program of the event, Marina Melnik, UNHCR Program Associate in the Republic of Belarus, prepared a presentation on the topic "UNHCR mandate and activities in the world and in the Republic of Belarus". In her speech M. Melnik told the seminar participants about the direction of the UN Refugee Agency, held an interactive session with participants of the seminar, communicated with representatives of the national communities, as well as with journalists.

Also, the presentation was made by media manager and media consultant, deputy director of BelaPAN Galina Malishevskaya. She conducted an analysis of the problematic field of the Belarusian media space, including coverage of issues of interethnic relations, tolerance, forced migration. In her report, G. Malishevskaya emphasized statistics and examples of misuse of data, terms, statistics, in general, by journalists of various media. The examples touched upon the problems of refugees in the Republic of Belarus.

Presentation of the results of the monitoring of the Belarusian media on issues of refugees, migration, intercultural relations was made by the PI specialist of the INA "Evolutio" Liubou Kravets. In her speech, she differentiated the terms "migrant" and "refugee", outlined the terminological basis for journalists, pointed out the most typical problems and mistakes of the mass media in writing articles on this topic. Within the practical part, a discussion of journalistic cases aimed at covering the problems of migration and intercultural interaction was held. There was a discussion on whether freedom of expression is a blessing or a curse, where lies the dividing line of freedom of speech in journalistic ethics.

Participants of the eventThe seminar ended up with a round table: views of refugees about the need to cover their problems vs. the opinion of journalists about the patterns of media space. Each participant expressed his views on covering the problem of intercultural communication and shared his fresh ideas on the greater involvement of young people in this issue and possible options for its promotion in the media.

At the conclusion of the seminar, participants expressed their hope that these initiatives would be reflected in practice, and thanked the organizers for the practical importance of holding such seminars with participation of young representatives of national communities.

We, on the part of the organizers, thank all the guests and hope that such a seminar will be a good start for the joint implementation of the developed initiatives, and will also endure the conduct of similar annual events.

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