InfoMigrants: a pan-European news platform for migrants
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FRANCE 24’s parent organisation has teamed up with German and Italian media outlets to launch InfoMigrants, a trilingual platform designed to provide migrants with verified and balanced information, at every stage of their journey.
The timing could hardly have been more symbolic. A day after the United Kingdom formally notified the European Union of its desire to divorce from the bloc, leading media outlets from three of the union’s founding members gathered in Paris on Thursday for the launch of a news and information website dedicated to migrants and sponsored by the EU.
“At this sad time for Europe, this bold new project re-emphasises our public-service duty regarding the migrant crisis,” said Marie-Christine Saragosse, head of France Médias Monde (FMM), which includes FRANCE 24 and its sister radio, RFI. “Back in July 2015, when the world was shocked by the picture of Aylan, the Syrian toddler washed ashore in Turkey, we realised that the tragedy of the migrant crisis was compounded by the tragedy of disinformation.”
InfoMigrants is a joint venture between France Médias Monde, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, and Italian press agency ANSA. Co-financed by the EU, it features multiple platforms, including dedicated news and information websites in French, English and Arabic, and a strong and diverse social media presence.
The project’s aim is to provide migrants with verified, objective and balanced news and information about the countries they leave, travel through, and hope to reach. It is designed to reach out to a migrant generation that, through the proliferation of smartphones, is more connected than ever before – but vulnerable to deceitful reports spread by profiteers.
‘Understanding the EU’
“The millions fleeing war, persecution and poverty don’t have reliable information,” said Ansa’s deputy director Stefano Polli, stressing the danger of misleading reports spread by smugglers and human traffickers. “A specific priority is to target those who haven’t yet arrived on EU soil, so that they don’t depend on smugglers’ misleading instructions,” added Deutsche Welle’s programme director, Gerda Meuer.
Amara Makhoul, the project’s chief editor, said a final version of the website, to be released in May, will include a participatory section where migrants can share their own experiences. Another segment, titled “Understanding the EU”, will inform migrants about European customs, laws and administrative procedures, ranging from certain European countries’ secular principles to the so-called Dublin Regulation governing the asylum process.
Their work will be monitored by a team of researchers at the UK-based Open University headed by Professor Marie Gillespie, whose job is to ensure that the project “balances the need to address the dangers of illegal immigration and the imperative to protect refugees and asylum seekers".
“The aim of InfoMigrants is not to encourage or discourage migrants from heading for Europe,” said FMM’s Saragosse. “Rather, it is to ensure they are in a position to make an informed decision.”