Films potent tool to address migrant issues | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:44 AM, December 03, 2019

Films potent tool to address migrant issues

Speakers say at film fest inauguration

Human trafficking and labour exploitation are the key challenges faced by the migration sector of the country, analysts said yesterday, calling for greater awareness through film and other media to ensure safety and protection of migrants.

They also said labour migration is a big issue for Bangladesh, with some seven lakh Bangladeshis migrating abroad for jobs and the country receiving some US $15 billion a year.  

The observations came at the inauguration of the Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF), organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Bangladesh with support of the European Union in association with Dhaka University Film Society at RC Majumdar Arts Auditorium of the university.

The festival features 15 films that capture the promise and challenges of migration, and the unique contributions migrants make to their new communities. Policymakers, students, academics, filmmakers, actors and development partners joined the festival, says an IOM statement.

Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique of mass communication and journalism department of Dhaka University said some disheartening experiences of women migrants returning from abroad were witnessed in the recent days.

“We need to be humane and humble to deal with the challenges of migration,” he said, saying cinema can be a strong tool to inform people of opportunities and challenges.

Filmmaker N Rashed Chowdhury said migrants feel hopeless after leaving behind their own culture and ethnicity.

“I think film is the best tool to show their emotions, reality, and challenges empathetically. New filmmakers should emphasise more on migration,” he said.

Rensje Teerink, ambassador of the European Union to Bangladesh, said there are many positive sides of migration, such as migrants’ economic contribution to their community, but there are many challenges as well. 

“Migration should happen out of aspiration, not desperation,” she said.

Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission of IOM Bangladesh, said, “Films have the power to show different facets of life, which can in turn help viewers cultivate deeper empathy for migrants and a better understanding of their realities, needs, perspectives, and capacities.”

Dr Delwar Hossain, a professor of international relations at Dhaka University, said the issue of migration is very politicised. Furthermore, unsafe migration results in human trafficking. Most importantly, ill-treatment of migrants makes them vulnerable.

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