Better ‘Branding’ for Refugees: OECD Urges Members to Focus on PR

Written by | Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

OECD has advised its Member States to focus on the narrative it presents to the public regarding immigration and refugees. As the number of asylum seekers and migrants is on the rise and the public keeps losing trust in authorities and elected governments to handle the situation, Europe is witnessing a rise in populism and right-wing extremism.

According to the OECD’s latest Migration Outlook, the EU should launch a coordinated response to migration. The report highlighted that the number of migrants entering the OECD countries increased for the second year in a row, corresponding to almost 5 million people last year. The number of asylum seekers is particularly high – approximately 1.65 million people – out of which about 25 percent are Syrians. The majority of applications have been submitted in Europe, with Germany bearing the brunt of the burden.

Despite the high absolute numbers, the OECD says that refugees in fact account for a very small part of total migration and that all evidence suggests that immigration has positive effects on public finances, labor market and economic growth – both medium and long-term. However, the research on long-term consequences is not enough and the public fears the impact of migration on the economy. Therefore, the OECD urges governments to present more hands-on arguments to improve the image of migrants in the society. For example, about 120 million people in OECD Member States were born in a different country to where they currently reside and about one fifth of population are migrants or immigrants.

This week, the world’s leaders gathered in New York for the opening of the 71st annual UN General Assembly. For the first time, the General Assembly has called for a summit at the Heads of State and Government level for large movements of refugees and migrants. This high-level summit is meant to address large movements of refugees and migrants with the aim to bring countries together and come up with a human and coordinated approach.

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