Our #FirstWeds Spring Series holds in mind Ukrainians and people of other countries ridden by war and conflict, who have been forced to leave their homes and cross borders in search of safety.
What are some practical ways to extend support and solidarity from Ireland? And, as we extend this support and solidarity, how can we grow our understanding of the geopolitical contexts within which such calamitous events unfold? Moreover, how can we, from here in Europe, ensure a move beyond fortressed border policies and uphold our welcome to all people in need of refuge?
Over the next 3 months, we invite you to join us as we explore these questions and more. In the company of panellists from Europe’s East and beyond we want to deepen our understanding of the drivers of the conflict and migration we are witnessing, and challenge the dualities of attitudes towards refugees. We also aim (with some urgency) to consider the many ways we can be in solidarity with communities seeking refuge from war, violence and oppression in 2022, and with those supporting them on this dangerous journey.
In the weeks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the open-arms approach of EU member states to those fleeing to the West has been warming. However, this reaction sits in sharp contrast to otherwise unyielding EU border policies. Indeed, in recent months these hardline policies have blocked and impeded the efforts of many to find refuge and safety in Europe and have cost lives on land and at sea. We think of those fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan from mid-2021 onwards, the many thousands who were trapped at the Byelorussian-Polish border at the end of 2021, those who continue to embark on long and dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean from North Africa and many others. How have these stories and journeys been told through the media? Media narratives both reflect and also shape public opinion. News outlets can serve to harden public attitudes, portraying refuge seekers as ‘other’, ‘different’, ‘self-interested’ or even ‘dangerous’; coverage can mute (or even undermine) efforts to meet those seeking safety with solidarity and challenge the exclusionary system. As we have seen in recent months, however, the media also has the power to soften attitudes and encourage a welcome based on empathy and solidarity. Our May panel of journalists will take a closer look at the duality of attitudes towards refugees, the role of the media in shaping narratives, either positive or negative, and how we can use this moment to uphold our welcome to all people in need of refuge.
Sally Hayden is an Irish journalist and the author of ‘My Fourth Time, We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World’s Deadliest Migration Route‘. She currently works as the Africa correspondent for the Irish Times and has also reported for the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, BBC, RTE, Newsweek, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the New York Times, and a range of other outlets. She is a two-time winner of the best ‘foreign coverage’ award at the Newsbrands Irish Journalism Awards, a winner of the Irish Red Cross Journalism Excellence Award and first prize in the EU Migration Media Awards, and a finalist in the One World Media Awards, Amnesty International Media Awards, and Kurt Schork Memorial Awards, among others.
Shamim Malekmian covers the immigration beat for Dublin Inquirer. Her academic background includes an undergraduate degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Government and Politics.
NOTE: Due to unforeseen circumstances Najib couldn’t join us on the day.
Najib Sharifi is President of the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, Afghanistan’s premier organization working towards promoting journalists’ safety and rights as well as press freedom in Afghanistan. In the past two decades, he has worked in various capacities for the local and international media including the BBC, CNN, Washington Post and National Public Radio. He has studied journalism at Radio Nederland Training Center as well as the University of Maryland in the US. Najib was accepted as a refugee in Ireland after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in 2021. He is one of the leaders of the Afghan refugee community in Ireland.
This session will be moderated by Patrick Marren of the Maynooth University Department of International Development.
You can find out more about the series, watch the previous Solidarity with Ukraine event and book your place at the upcoming Criminalisation of Humanitarians session in June here.
For any questions and to find out more, please contact Aga at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wed, 6 April, 2022; 7PM: PART 1 – Solidarity with Ukraine – Watch it here
Wed, 4 May, 2022; 7PM: PART 2 – Solidarity in Crisis – Watch it here
Wed, 1 June, 2022; 7PM: PART 3 – Criminalisation of Humanitarians on the European Borders – Watch it here
In case you missed it
PART 1: The Future is Now: Global Youth Voices on the Climate Crisis
PART 2: Where Does the Wisdom Lie? Elders on the Climate Crisis
PART 3: Post-COP26 – Community Activists on Where to Next
#FirstWeds events are organised in partnership with the Maynooth University Department of International Development and with the financial support of Concern Worldwide for which we are most grateful.
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