Ahead of World Refugee Day on the 20th of June 2020, Development Perspectives was delighted to host a 2-hour online workshop with 50 community practitioners. The focus of this workshop was on changing the narrative regarding refugee integration in Ireland and how to support meaningful engagement.
This workshop was hosted in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 which recognises the importance of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in creating a fairer and more just world. This workshop specifically focused on promoting meaningful engagement with refugees and those seeking asylum in Ireland whilst also highlighting the importance of accurate representation of refugees and asylum seekers in national media.
In order to give reliable information, this workshop welcomed two well-regarded guest speakers - Dr Julie Norman and Razan Ibraheem.
Dr Julie Norman, a Teaching Fellow in Politics and International Relations at University College London and a regular contributor to BBC, Al Jazeera and other news outlets, spoke on the global perspective on refugee integration. Dr Norman highlighted the startling figures that over 70.8 million people are currently forcibly displaced worldwide, with over half of those people originally from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. Dr Norman also went on to highlight that in Europe there is currently (on average) 26,000 people seeking protection, which is substantially lower than the peak of 1 million people in 2015.
The second guest speaker Razan Ibraheem, an Irish-Syrian journalist and activist who recently volunteered with refugees in Greece and spoke at a number of high-level political meetings regarding Syrian resettlement programmes highlighted the importance of giving a clear and accurate representation of refugees and asylum seekers in the media. Razan Ibraheem recognized the importance of creating space for critical dialogue and including the voice of people involved in the stories being told, particularly the voices of women.
“Many of the terms used regarding refugees in the media create fear. This is where we need to re-examine and use the real terms to represent the reality of refugees” Razan Ibraheem.
It was concluded by many of the practitioners who joined the workshop, that there is a need for participatory approaches in involving communities in this discussion and to offer new perspectives to the conversation.
This workshop was hosted as part of a new national Development Education programme called Saolta funded by Irish Aid and as part of a pan European programme called STIRE funded by the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Immigration Fund.