Liberia: IOM Calls on Media to Prioritize Awareness on Migration, Trafficking in Person


GBARNGA, Bong County – The International Organization of Migration (IOM) has called on journalists to report on more human-interest stories, especially issues concerning migration.

At the close of weeklong training for media practitioners in Gbarnga, Bong County, the Focal Person of Messengers of Migrants, Tamba Siafa, said if more focus is placed on fetching information on migration issues and educating the public about the risk of irregular migration, young people would be educated to make rightful decisions before traveling.

Siafa said there are too many irregular traveling which lands young people who are seeking greener pastures into dangers, only because they have not being educated on the risks involved.

“Majority of the people involved with irregular traveling are the youth and many of them are doing so because they have not been informed on the risk irregular traveling posed to them. Until you, the media can join in helping to educate the public on these issues, we will continue to hear the stories of irregular traveling,” Siafa said.

According to him, the media plays a pivotal role in providing information that will enable young people who want to seek greener pastures to make informed decisions and to travel, using the proper channels.

Siafa said though the media is important in such a process, it is equally important to increase their knowledge on how to report on issues of migration, especially migrants’ experiences in order to avoid them from being stigmatized by the public.

The IOM Messengers of Migrants Focal Person further maintained that the media has not been reporting much on migrant issues, while others who report do not use the right language sometimes, only due to lack of education of issues of migration.

He said it would be important to seek the consent of survivors before doing a publication on their experience, because they, too, are faced with psychological trauma from experiences of irregular traveling.

Most of the survivors, according to Siafa, had faced issues of torture, sexual harassment, force labor and other forms of trafficking in persons, for which awareness should be carried out on irregular traveling to avoid similar experience by others.

But with the weeklong training, he believes reporters will be able to identify the difference between regular and irregular migration stories, human, trafficking, and smuggling and provide the right information to the public.

The weeklong training brought together reporters from Montserrado, Margibi, Bong, Lofa, and Nimba Counties to learn different topics and as well, listen to the experiences of some returnees, who traveled irregularly.

As Messengers of Migrants, Siafa further called on the media to exposed individuals who are involved with smuggling people out of the country for trafficking.

He wants the media, especially those doing talk shows and programs, to include migration as a means of helping to avoid trafficking in persons and other irregular traveling.

“Many people do not know that they have been trafficked unless they are educated,” Siafa stressed.

Siafa wants reporters who benefited from the training to always be able to identify the act, means, and purpose in trafficking and other vices associated with irregular traveling.

Trafficking in person shall means, the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons using the threat, or use of force, or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, or of the giving or receiving of payment or benefit to achieve the consent of a person having control over another purpose of exploitation.

However, the Head of the Anti-Trafficking In-Person Division at the Ministry of Labor Adolphus Satiah said the three elements of, Act, Means, and Purpose must be present to constitute trafficking in person, except in the elation to the trafficking of children for which the mean element is not required.

Mr. Satiah also encouraged public reports on the acts of trafficking in person, on grounds that government will not be everywhere at the same time.

For his part, Jefferson Morris, Deputy Director for Training at the Liberia Immigration Service has admonished citizens to travel with proper documentation to avoid harassment outside the country.