E-Platform and Information Campaign: Telling the Real Story

UNHCR has lauchend a new and innovative information platform reaching out to Eritreans and Somalis who are considering taking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean into Europe. «Telling the Real Story» is a collection of testimonies by persons who have made this voyage.

E-Platform and Information Campaign: Telling the Real Story

This community-based information project is aimed at helping Eritreans and Somalis to take an informed decision about traveling to Europe and countering the narrative of smugglers and traffickers.

Smugglers and traffickers are currently the main source of information. For obvious reasons, they play down the full extent of dangers such as accidents, diseases, torture, SGVB, trauma, extortion of large sums of money (from the entire family) and raise unrealistic expectations about asylum and life in Europe. Furthermore, those who have made the journey to Europe do not fully reflect their experiences when they report back home. Telling the Real story has been set up to counterbalance this biased information.

There are a number of triggers for primary and secondary movements: many are fleeing persecution, war, and conflict, while others are escaping from poverty or the lack of livelihood opportunities. They are lured by the false promises of smugglers or simply following the example of peers.

The right to seek asylum is a basic human right. No one who is in need of protection must be dissuaded from doing so. But the decision to embark on the long and dangerous journey to Europe should be based on comprehensive information that is truthful and trustworthy.

As of today, the website as well as a mobile friendly version are online, providing authentic stories, told by the refugees and migrants themselves. They speak to their own communities and share their experiences, good and bad. To set the example, the e-platform currently features testimonials recorded by a camera team. As of now, Eritreans and Somalis en route to or in Europe will be encouraged to upload their own videos, pictures and sound files.

Telling the Real Story is a joint endeavour by the Europe and Africa Bureaus and was developed in close consultation with DIP. UNHCR is enabling the project, but it is the close cooperation with the diaspora and Eritrean and Somali refugee communities in camps in Sudan and Ethiopia which makes it participatory and interactive. Somali and Eritrean communities are both providers and recipients of the messages.

We encourage UNHCR staff to use the content of the e-platform for awareness raising, sharing with our partners, external briefings for media and donors, always highlighting that UNHCR is trying to engage communities on the risk of continuous sea crossings.

The Telling the Real Story Team is based in Stockholm and consists of a project leader and four Somali and Tigrinya-speaking project assistants. We are in the process of hiring assistants who will reach out to refugee communities in Ethiopia and Sudan. The project is funded by the European Union.

UNHCR Press Release 2016/01/28