The history of the Migration Awareness Department dates back to 2000, when the infoservis.net website was launched under the umbrella of People in Need, bringing current articles and information from various parts of the world on topics such as humanitarian and development aid, human rights, migration and social exclusion in the Czech Republic. We've also published newspaper supplements on these topics - at first mainly in Respekt and Lidové noviny, and later in many other print media. We realised the need to focus more on the topic of migration and integration, and thus the Migration Department was born. We have since implemented both smaller, purely internal projects, as well as larger more international projects in cooperation with Czech and foreign partners.
Despite the increased attention paid to the topic of migration and integration by politicians, media and societies across Europe, we still often lack a deeper understanding of what it really is. According to a special Eurobarometer survey on the integration of immigrants in the EU, only a minority (37%) of Europeans believe that they are well-informed on immigration and integration issues. This is precisely what the I am European: Migration & Facts for the 21st Century project is responding to by aiming to increase this figure and contribute to a better understanding of the context of migration. The project has been created by NGOs from 6 European countries (Estonia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Germany, and Poland) who are experts in integration, education, human rights, and awareness-raising since 2019. The project aims to promote a more inclusive and constructive approach towards migrants and refugees in Europe. The main tool of the project is raising awareness among young people, including the involvement of young journalists, educators and youth workers in creating a space for a balanced debate on migration issues based on facts and direct experiences.
The project reaches out to youth in the participating countries through Czech social media campaigns accompanied by other visual stories such as documentaries from two of the largest minorities living in the country. Young journalists and influencers have the opportunity to participate in training and study trips at home and abroad, gaining new first-hand experience and knowledge about migration and integration in different parts of the world. They can also apply for mini-fellowships for research.
Teachers and youth workers can use Czech methodological materials, ready-made lessons and engaging learning activities both inside and outside the classroom. Through our online and offline courses, they can also improve their knowledge of the topic of migration and get tips on how to discuss it with their students.
How can "they" become "we"? The Integration for the Young Generation in a Comprehensible Way is a project funded by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic and implemented in 2021. It aims to create a space for a well-balanced debate on migration and integration based on facts and direct experience. The project aims to increase the receptiveness of the young generation towards migrants, reduce stereotypical perceptions of foreigners and facilitate their integration into society. This is done through a Czech social media campaign, and indirectly through the education and support of a specific target group, the so-called "multipliers", who have a direct influence on the dissemination of information among young people. In the project, these are both future journalists studying at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, as well as educators (especially teachers). All three activities of the project are aimed at ensuring that young people have sufficient knowledge about what integration means and what challenges migrants face in their efforts to integrate into society. We are aiming for an interested and active approach and a greater tolerance of the youth towards migrants.
2017 - 2022
If you're interested in comparisons of different European integration policies aimed at asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection, take a look at the results of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) research project. So what did we study and compare? For example, whether the criteria for citizenship for beneficiaries of international protection are the same in all EU countries or what the rules are in different European countries regarding access to the labour market for refugees. The NIEM project, which runs in two phases until 2021, aims to develop a tool to evaluate national integration policies aimed at applicants and holders of international protection in selected EU countries while monitoring their implementation. The findings are continuously published on www.forintegration.eu. People in Need is participating in the research together with 15 other European organisations and research institutions. The strategic partner is the Migration Policy Group (MPG), an organisation that produces the MIPEX index assessing the integration policies of the EU and nine other selected countries. The project leader is the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in Warsaw. You can read more about the results of the research HERE, and there are also research reports available, including the Czech-language study First-hand Integration, which is a unique summary of interviews with applicants and international protection holders in the Czech Republic. The study captures their impressions from their first days of arriving in the country, maps out their participation in the State Integration Programme, and introduces the readers to some of the most important challenges the refugees will face in the next phases of integration into the local society.
In connection with the NIEM project, the V4NIEM (Visegrad Countries National Integration Evaluation Mechanism) project is running, which specifically focuses on the long-term evaluation of the effectiveness of national integration policies aimed at refugees in the Visegrad countries. Its aim is to streamline and improve the integration of refugees and other international protection holders in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia in order to prevent discord and disagreement between newcomers and old settlers and reduce the risk of potential mutual intolerance. The first research report on asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia is available in five languages and can be freely downloaded here. The V4NIEM project is co-financed by the Visegrad Fund under the Visegrad Strategic Grant.
The current European Commission-funded project People Between the Lines: Building Skills for Quality Migration Coverage is particularly aimed at future journalists. We strongly believe that the conditions for the successful integration of migrants into society are primarily a combination of a good integration policy and a welcoming host society. Although there are over half a million foreigners living in the Czech Republic, a significant part of society does not meet long-term settled foreigners personally on a daily basis. Where personal experience is lacking, mediated experience comes in - most often through the media. Therefore, it is very important that the media portrayal of migrants and the discussions in the media are based on clearly defined concepts and well-documented data, which is unfortunately not always the case. Since 2017, the Migration Awareness programme has been implementing an accredited course “Journalist and Minor Topics” at the Institute of Communication Studies and Journalism of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University. The course is designed for students of journalism and, in addition to the theoretical part, has a practical part during which students have the opportunity to prepare and eventually publish their own media outputs. The project also includes the production of course materials and research on the media framing of migration.
The focus of the project Being in the Picture, which the Migration Awareness programme implements in cooperation with One World at Schools (JSNS), focuses on developing the skills to recognise and reject prejudices and negative stereotypes among high and secondary school students. Our aim is for pupils to learn practices that help them to critically evaluate and receive messages and information from the media and social networks. They are then better able to form opinions and attitudes based on facts and verified information. We’ve developed Czech-language teaching materials for the project, Being in the Picture 2, which includes materials and images in the media of "migration".
At the height of the refugee crisis in Europe, we implemented the Czech project titled, Refugees, Neighbours and Us: Migration, Media and Society on Both Sides of the Border funded by the Czech-German Fund for the Future. Although the numbers of incoming asylum seekers in Germany and the Czech Republic are incomparable, the topic of the refugee crisis and migration has become a major societal issue in both countries, which has influenced their mutual relations In this situation, we found it useful for representatives of civil society, politicians, and local governments on both sides of the border to share their experiences and find common solutions. Thanks to the project, we managed to connect Czech and Saxon actors, whether journalists, NGO collaborators, or local government representatives and officials. Through public debates and, indirectly, through the media outputs of the participating journalists, the project contributed to better informing the Czech public about what the integration process of newcomers in neighbouring Saxony looks like, what challenges it entails and what role the state and political sphere play.
In the second project funded by the Czech-German Fund for the Future called Fact(or) of Migration: A Dialogue between Experts and the Professional/General Public, we focused on anchoring the debate on migration in facts, expert knowledge and practical experience, mainly because the focus of the debate on migration, integration and refugees in the Czech public space shifted during 2016 from the issue of the possible arrival of refugees to highlighting partial failures of integration, criminal acts and Islamist terrorism in Western European countries, especially Germany. That's why, during 2017, we invited renowned academics working on migration and practitioners, i.e. governmental organisations as well as NGOs from Germany. During our three public lectures followed by a debate, we managed to connect actors from the Czech and German academic community, and our guests also gave several media interviews in German with Czech subtitles.
Together with Each Other, or, Do We Know What Integration Is? was a project funded by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic and implemented in 2017. It aimed to raise the awareness of the Czech public about migration and issues related to the integration of third-country nationals through intensive cooperation with the media and the publication of relevant data. On November 11th, 2017 we released the newspaper supplement in the Týden magazine. We focused on educating journalists and journalism students, and organised public events. A project with a similar goal, but focused on the economic side of migration, called Media, Migration and the Labour Market - Informing the Public about the Integration of Foreigners, was implemented in 2016 using the subsidy of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic.
The project How to Understand Media Messages on Migration and Refugees introduced high school students to the framing of the topic of migration in the media. Thanks to the project, students were able to develop a critical approach to media coverage and to understand the mechanisms of media work through visits to schools by actively writing to journalists. The Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic supported the project financially.
In 2016 concluded our project Promoting a Tolerant Society in Real and Virtual Space, through which we drew attention to the risks associated with the spread of racism, xenophobia and hate speech on social networking sites. We focused on analysing manifestations of intolerance towards foreigners on social networks. The results can be found in our Czech publication Expressions of Hate in Cyberspace and on Social Networks.
The project titled, Media and Migration in High Schools helped students to develop a critical approach to media and its content, to understand the mechanisms of media work, while also learning to use media creatively for their own purposes. The project was financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
One of our major international projects was the 18-month Face2face: Facilitating Dialogue Between Migrants and European Citizens. The project aimed to contribute to the integration of migrants by promoting their communication and media skills. A better presentation of migrants in the media helps to reduce stereotypes and negative perceptions held by the majority of society. It was implemented not only in the Czech Republic but also in the UK, Spain and Italy, and included, among other things, media training for migrants, a tutorial for teachers/students on writing about migration, a documentary film, and public events.
The aforementioned project was followed by the solely Czech Face2Face II - Support for Dialogue Between Third-Country Nationals and Czech Citizens at the Local Level. For this purpose, we helped to strengthen the media skills of migrants and contribute to their active involvement in the media coverage of topics that affect their lives and coexistence at the local level. The project included public events, a summer film school, and media training for migrants.
In 2014, we implemented the Migration to the Centre project, where in cooperation with the Multicultural Centre Prague and other NGOs from Central European countries, we focused on migration to Central Europe and on bringing the debate on migration and integration policies to the centre of interest and attention of the wider public and policy makers. Through the project, we explored and discussed the ways in which EU policies on migrants are implemented and put into practice in Central Europe. Key themes were labour market policies, family reunification, education and higher education.
In 2013, our MIStra project (Migrant Inclusion Strategies in European Cities) focused on migrants living in cities, intending to learn more about the development of integration policies in European metropolises. In addition to Prague, 7 other European cities participated. As part of the project, we developed a research analysis of the situation of migrants and minorities in Prague, based on which we were assigned a partner city that best suited our local needs and whose representatives became our "mentors" in the field of integration for a year - this city was the Irish metropolis of Dublin and the partner organisation Ballymun Job Centre. As part of the project, we organised workshops for city councillors, representatives of migrant organisations, as well as all those involved in the development of integration policies in the capital. We have also produced a handbook, a 'compendium of good integration practices', intended to further serve municipal policy makers.
Another partnership project, which we developed together with the Association for Integration and Migration and the advertising agency Ogilvy&Mather over a period of two years from July 2012, was the Equal Opportunities on the Threshold of Czech Homes project, focusing on a specific and very vulnerable group of migrant women - domestic workers. The aim of the project was to reduce the vulnerability of foreign women working in Czech households. By reflecting on this not-yet-widely discussed topic, we tried to strengthen empathy towards this vulnerable group and enable the public to understand the specific conditions in which domestic workers find themselves. The most striking part of the project was a public campaign that took the form of a fictional agency called Cizinky na úklid (Foreign Women Here to Clean), whose public face was the model Kateřina Kristelová. The promotion of the agency was based on the real experiences of female domestic workers, and the agency's offer reflected actual situations in real households. The core of the campaign consisted of adverts with descriptions of individual women, worded as product listings of inanimate, nameless goods. The aim was to show that housework is a job like any other. It is governed by the same rules and is subject to the Labour Code. As part of the campaign, the “Fair Employer's Ten Commandments” were also created.
The Migration Awareness programme has been working since 2008 to balance the media image of migrants and contribute to better coexistence within Czech society through the three-year project Let's Create Diverse Media!, funded by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM). The project included media training for both migrants and journalists, the birth of the Migrants' Forum and its blog, the publication of thematic supplements in national dailies and the creation of a Czech-language online publication "Don't Wait for the Media to Notice You! A Small Media Handbook on New Media (Not Only) for Migrant Organisations", which maps out the main communication opportunities and tools the internet offers.
As part of the project Colourful Reality - Foreigners in the Czech Republic, we managed to get the topic of migration on the airwaves in 2008. In cooperation with the editor of Radio Wave, we worked with migrants with interesting life stories. Sixteen one-hour interviews were then broadcast on Radio Wave's evening programme Rentgen.
The radio work was later followed up with a new project called Crossings - How a Personal Story Can Contribute to the Integration of Foreigners into Czech Society, which included the radio programme Crossings, broadcast in 2011. The programme not only presented the stories of migrants in the Czech Republic, but by directly involving them in the preparation and production, it helped them to improve their communication skills and awareness of the Czech media environment, and support them in active communication with the media and the public.
In the project Information Against Irregular Migration, realised in 2008 and 2009, we focused on working with Ukrainian journalists to provide them with information about the situation of Ukrainian labour migrants in Czechia, who often find themselves stuck in positions without necessary information as they become hostages of intermediaries. As part of the project, we created the Migration4Media information portal for the media in both Ukrainian and Czech languages and organised a seminar for Ukrainian journalists in Lviv.
Five Czech NGOs carried out three successive projects entitled Regularisation as a Tool in the Fight against Irregular Migration. The organisations that participated were People in Need (Migration Awareness programme), Counselling Centre for Refugees (now known as the Association for Integration and Migration), Counselling for Citizenship, Civic and Human Rights, Organization for Aid to Refugees (OPU) and Multicultural Centre Prague. People in Need was in charge of the media and information side of the projects, especially the media coverage of the topic of migration with a focus on irregular migration and regularisation. One of the outputs of the project was the Czech-language publication Irregular Stay of Foreigners in the Czech Republic: Problems and Solutions, dedicated to specific problems related to irregular migration in the Czech Republic (June 2008).