IOM, UNESCO Urge Indian Media to Promote Diversity

India - IOM and UNESCO held a media  orientation day in New Delhi this week, focusing on “Images of Migrants: Media and its Role in Shaping Public Perception.” The event was held at the UN Conference Hall and attracted over 35 participants from media, civil society, international organizations and community media.

The orientation day sought to encourage more media coverage on the diverse images of migrants and to counter intolerance and discrimination against migrants in the media and society. Participants discussed migration trends in South Asia and India, examined the relevance of choices of words and images when narrating stories of migrants, shared their experiences on the empowerment of migrants through their coverage, and reflected on their role and responsibility in shaping public perceptions.

IOM Special Envoy to India Dr. Meera Sethi called for a fundamental shift in the approach towards migration as a process to be managed, not a problem to be solved. She encouraged journalists to move away from reports that share a narrow view on migration to an acknowledgment of the important and diverse roles that migrants play as agents of development, creators, innovators, facilitators and entrepreneurs in both sending and receiving communities.

“Reporting facts is not enough. Journalists are at the forefront of understanding and reporting on the role of migration and the diverse images of migrants in the 21st century. Media coverage of migration needs to mirror the complexity of migrant stories and aim at countering xenophobia, racism and narratives of hatred,” she said.

Dr. Sethi closed her remarks by encouraging participants to engage in a dialogue on countering migration myths and stereotypes and provide positive stories to reject rhetoric that stigmatizes migrant populations.

Marina Faetanini, Chief of the Social and Human Sciences Section at UNESCO New Delhi, said: “Policies designed for a sedentary population will not be able to address efficiently an Indian population on the move. A policy shift is therefore required to support, facilitate and accompany mobility of migrants not to curtail it.”

The orientation day consisted of four sessions, including presentations on myths and facts about migration in India, amplifying migrant voices through community radio, the power of photography to shape public attitudes and influence public debate as well as media self-regulation and migrant responsive reporting. In addition, IOM presented the “I am a migrant – I am a refugee” campaign and UNESCO introduced the web-portal: “Gender Youth Migration-GYM.”

During the sessions, participants discussed how to put individual migrant stories at the centre of media coverage and improve media literacy, drawing diverse examples from different Indian states, European countries and the reporting on Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

India has one of the most complex and diverse migration histories. Today, there is an Indian diaspora on every continent, with large communities in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, United States, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

The number of Indian emigrants worldwide is estimated at 11.4 million. Within India itself, migrants constitute a sizeable population: 326 million internal migrants, with an estimated 100 million seasonal migrants living in distress (Census of India 2001 and National Sample Survey Organization 2007-2008).

Internal migrants, just like international migrants, often travel great distances and experience many similar benefits and challenges. In countries as diverse as India, they experience the same exclusions as international migrants: language barriers, low paid jobs, insecure or hazardous work, extreme vulnerability to trafficking and sexual exploitation, and discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, caste or gender.

For further information please contact Meera Sethi at IOM India, Tel: +91 95559 71297, Email: or Marina Faetanini at UNESCO New Delhi, Tel: +91 11 2671 3000,