The Media and International Community Interventions in the Global Refugee Crisis: The Case of Syria and South Sudan

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Miller Smith and Davies Brown
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As a powerful tool in shaping public opinion, the mainstream press has been a leading agent in influencing general attitudes towards refugees. Besides garnering sympathy for asylum seekers, news coverage also has the power, through misrepresentation and propaganda, to stimulate hostility towards refugees. In light of this, refugees’ ability to establish a new identity and integrate in a host society partly hinges on their portrayal in the media. The latest wave of refugees has generated debates and press reportage from different approaches. At the same time as sexual attacks allegedly committed by refugees made the headlines in news portals, other journalists were bringing us human stories from refugee camps. Thus, the media has a pivotal role on refugee crisis especially on how they portray the refugees. Refugee voices in the press receive less exposure than political sources and citizen voices. In addition, negative portrayal of refugees in the mainstream press exacerbates stigma and hostility, and sensational reports often present asylum seekers as economic opportunists, potential criminals and a threat to national security. On the other hand, the response of the international community to the impact of large refugee populations on host countries is characterized by different conceptual underpinnings and motivations. Within the conceptual framework which UNHCR sought to organize a response there was has been a facet of broader thinking on the relationship of refugee aid and development assistance, and their relationship, in turn, to durable solutions to refugee situations. Thus, the paper addresses the contributions and the influence of the media in covering the global refugee crisis and how the international community responds to it. The paper uses a case of the refugee crisis in both Syria and South Sudan.
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