September 07, 2015

Refugees or Migrants? Role of Media in the European Crisis

(Syrian refugees - www.humanrightshouse.org)
The refugee crisis in Europe affects the entire world, and yet the world watches in a stand-by mode. Why?  Is it because we are ill informed about the crisis? Is the media playing a responsible role of keeping the world informed about what's happening on the ground in Syria and thereabouts, or is the tussle for supremacy between the social media and the print media exacerbating the crisis unfolding in Europe? 

(www.citypeek.com)
The print media is fighting to keep its hold on readership, and social media is trying its level best to make some permanent dents in the print media share.  While newspapers are trying to keep pace with the minute by minute updates of social media, the social media is upgrading its reliability of information and sources to compete with the reputed print media. However, this need for immediacy of news has compromised the quality of the end product, which is the news we get. Or else, why would established and reputed media casually use the word 'migrant' for a 'refugee' in several of its articles while reporting on the crisis? When reporting on the situation in Greece, Italy, France, Germany and other European countries being inundated by hordes of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and parts of North Africa, the media refers to these desperate people as 'migrants'.  It appears to forget or else disregards that the hordes in question are not 'migrants' by any definition; they did not make a planned departure from their homeland, nor do they plan to establish permanent residence in another country in pursuit of better opportunities. In fact, these are some awfully scared and frantic families trying to avert death and or torture at the hands of an apathetic, violent, and fundamentalist regime that has taken over their homeland, and they have no means of fighting it off. These are mothers and fathers seeking shelter, in any place possible, that promises their children the slightest hope at life, and no tear gas, legal document, or a border fence is going to stop this mass movement of frantic and needy people.

Undoubtedly, European nations feel overwhelmed by this endless surge of humanity pouring in at their borders, but wouldn't they have done the same had the roles been reversed? Rich European nations have to revisit their policies on immigration; the age old wall of disparity that exists between the have and the have not nations in and around Europe will not hold for long, as the current crisis proves.  A Germany and a France cannot sail peacefully if a Greece is sinking.  It's no different in the Americas; USA must ensure an economically viable and politically stable Mexico and Canada if the USA wants to maintain peace and prosperity within its borders. National boundaries can no longer deter people from finding safe haven when confronted by natural or man made disasters. And when masses of desperate people are on the move, as they are in Syria and other places in the region, it's no longer just a European crisis, it's a world crisis, and the media has a very large and significant role to play when reporting a humanitarian crisis of such proportion. The media cannot play games or seek leverage in the face of such mammoth human suffering.

Here are a couple of links to articles reporting on this crisis:
www.nytimes.com/.../migrants-push-toward-hungary-as-a-border-fence-ris...
news.yahoo.com/migrant-cafe-owners-greeces-kos-broken-refugee-crisis-0...
http://aje.io/9pqc


1 comment:

Georg Hausherr said...

People over here are more and more reluctant about this massive influx of people. Sure, they are desparate, they should be helped, they flee from war and poverty or both.

But, there is a but: most of them (about 60 percent) are young males and nearly all are Muslims. Now we know that more than half of them have trouble to integrate into Westeern lifestyle. As you may know, those last bombings/mass killings carried out in Paris have been committed by third generation Arabs. Same for the killings in London some years ago. Etc, etc.

And there is another point to consider: demographics. Now we have between 1 and 5 percent Muslims in European countries. But how would that be in AD 2100? Would we be obliged to live like the Copts in Egypt or the last Christians in Iraq?

What do you think about these considerations?

Georg