DW Akademie supports information services by and for displaced people in South Asia, qualifies media practitioners and experts there and promotes dialogue with host communities.
Large-scale displacement and migration movements are serious challenges in South Asia. Media freedom and freedom of expression, as well, are restricted in most of the region’s countries, namely Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives. The situation is especially difficult in Afghanistan.
These restrictions especially affect migrants and displaced people. In most host countries, they have very limited access to information about their situation. Balanced reporting is often absent and there is no direct access to media or journalistic platforms to make their voices heard. They cannot contribute to the public discourse about displacement and migration, even though they are at the center of both. Host communities tend to learn little about the personal hopes and concerns of the displaced, and there is not much direct exchange. This leads to stereotypical narratives and to prejudice, as well as to rumors and misinformation, which in return can lead to increased hostility towards refugees and migrants.
DW Akademie supports displaced people and migrants in South Asia, helping them exercise their rights to information and to freedom of expression, as well as to enable more dialogue between host communities and displaced people. We also provide capacity-building and development for conflict-sensitive journalism on refugees and migration beyond traditional stereotypes. At the regional South Asia level, we are setting up an interdisciplinary expert network in the field of displacement and migration and are conducting regional conferences and workshops.
In Bangladesh, we support partners who work with Rohingya and local Bangladeshi community volunteers. They are mentored to produce a weekly radio magazine program which focuses on everyday matters in the Rohingya camps and the surrounding villages. As the volunteers who work for the program are affected by displacement themselves – directly or indirectly, they have special credibility among their communities which are otherwise difficult to reach. The radio show has been running since 2018 and will be extended with educational content and new formats.
More than 80 million people have been displaced worldwide and crucial information needs to reach them, too
In Pakistan, traditional media rarely cover the stories of the large community of Afghan refugees who have been in the country for a long time. Our partners, therefore, have assessed the information needs of Afghan refugees in selected districts and have started to train members of this settled Afghan community together with local Pakistani citizens to work as citizen journalists – they are the first organizations in Pakistan to do so. Participants are qualified and mentored to publish digital or audio content to be broadcast on the radio.
DW Akademie supports a group of Afghan media experts with consulting, a stipend program and qualification. In addition, we consider how best to inform newly arrived Afghan refugees in neigboring countries. Here, citizen journalism can play an important mediating role.
Funding: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Program Director: Andrea Marshall
Locations: Cox’s Bazar and Dhaka (Bangladesh), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (Pakistan), Kolkata (India), Kathmandu (Nepal) and other locations in the region
Focus: Social participation, qualification, political and legal frameworks, civic society lobby for freedom of expression, participation of disadvantaged population groups, conflict and media / conflict-sensitive reporting, journalistic professionalism and networks
For years, DW Akademie has encouraged discussions on freedom of expression and information access for displaced people. These discussions have now been distilled into eight recommendations.
In a report published by DW Akademie humanitarian expert Hannah Murphy gives eight recommendations for communication in displacement settings. Media development could be crucial for participation and inclusion, she says.