Turkey: Seminar focuses sensitive refugee news coverage

By Meryem Goktas and Busra Nur Bilgic

ANKARA (AA) – Language used in news media to cover issues related to refugees has far-reaching effects in shaping societal attitudes toward them, it was discussed at a seminar on Tuesday,

Journalists, professors and students attended the seminar titled "News on refugees: Agenda setting and role of media in creating public opinion", organized as part of an EU-funded project led by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services.

Faruk Bildirici, reader representative of the daily newspaper Hurriyet, highlighted the importance of rightful coverage of refugees, especially Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Giving examples of insensitive use of language, he said, it can create negative opinions harming society at large.

"Put yourself in their [refugees] position," he added.

Erol Nezih Orhon, professor of the faculty of communication at Anadolu University, gave a presentation on the power of words used in the media and how they affect different audience.

Ahmet Parla, director of UN National Information Centre, shared that 68.5 million people are displaced worldwide while around 3.5 million refugees live in Turkey, making it the country hosting the largest number of refugees.

Speaking about UN's "Global Compact on Refugees" which was affirmed by the member states of the UN General Assembly last December, Parla said that it "aims to strengthen the international response to large movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations".

Parla presented the four key objectives of the global compact, which are "easing pressures on host countries, enhancing self-reliance, expanding the access to third-country solutions, and supporting conditions in countries of origin for return with safety and dignity".

Turkey has spent more than $37 billion of its own national resources to aid and shelter refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.