In an effort to promote inclusivity and acceptance of refugees into communities, journalists have been called to be cautious and objective when dealing with refugee related issues.
At a time when the number of refugees continues to surge globally due to, mainly, politically motivated violence, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in conjunction with the government of Zimbabwe’s has implored journalists to be accurate and objective when dealing with refugee issues.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Media Workshop on Global Forced Displacement, UNHCR Country Representative for Zimbabwe, Robert Tibagwa said “We have undertaken this initiative so that we educate them on the need to report refugee issues .accurately
Tibagwa said it is important that the media deal with refugee issues correctly as they are a delicate section of the community.
“Often we see in the media journalists labeling refugees as threats to the society but that is not the case. So this workshop was meant to improve their knowledge about refugees,” said Tibagwa.
He said there is need for the public to know, through the media, difference between refugees and economic migrants so as to avoid infuriating the two.
Tibagwa added that it is the duty of the government to accord a person a refugee status and the media must be aware on who qualifies to be classified as a refugee or economic migrant.
“Government has a committee that decides who deserves to be accorded with a refugee and the committee is made up people from the Ministry of Defense, to look into the background of the person who intends to be accorded with a refugee status. We also have the ministry of social service who are responsible for the welfare of the refuges.
He paid homage to the government of Zimbabwe for providing support to refugees by allowing refugees to be accorded the same rights and access to health and education, with children from the country’s only refugee camp, Tongogara Refugee camp, being enrolled in different schools in and around the Manicaland province.
Some students from the camp have acquired University degrees to countries such as China, Russia and the United States of America.
“Although the country is facing crippling financial problems, it has done considerably well to cater for refugees, Tibagwa said.
Zimbabwe has a refugee population of above eight thousand while there are about 65, 3 million who have been forced into refugee or have been displaced globally in the past 20 years.