President of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa with Nigerian university professor, Fr Walter Ihejirika in Kampala, Uganda. President of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa with Nigerian university professor, Fr Walter Ihejirika in Kampala, Uganda. 

Uganda: Africa’s Catholic media to share ideas on how to improve coverage of news about refugees.

SIGNIS Africa will hold a workshop to ensure Catholic communication practitioners acquire the requisite skills for effective coverage and reporting on news about refugees. The workshop will be held in Uganda from 10 July to 16 July 2023.

Paul Samasumo - Vatican City.

SIGNIS Africa President and Professor of Development Communication and Media Studies at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, Father Professor Walter Ihejirika, announced the workshop to Vatican News. He said the 10 - 16 July workshop will be held at Saint Mary’s Seminary, Ggaba, in Uganda. It is being organised in collaboration with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Guide for reporting news about refugees

The SIGNIS Africa team recently met the local Uganda organising team in Kampala to fine-tune details of the workshop. Later Father Ihejirika met and briefed the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) President and Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese, Joseph Antony Zziwa. He further had meetings with Emeritus Bishop Giuseppe Franzelli, the UEC Chair for the Commission of Social Communications, among other Ugandan church officials.

“The workshop will afford participants the opportunity to listen to the voices of the local Church, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the experiences of the Ugandan people with refugees. An outing to a refugee settlement is being considered. Media experts, state, UNHCR, and civil society will help navigate Catholic media to reclaim their voice on refugees and migrants -a voice sometimes drowned out by Western media’s highly selective and sometimes misleading notions of migration and refugees. By the end of the workshop, we hope to emerge with SIGNIS Africa Media guidelines that Catholic media practitioners can use in efficient and effective reporting on refugees. We hope for factual but more humane reporting of people already traumatised by their homeland experiences,” said Fr Ihejirika.

Why Uganda?

According to UN agencies, Uganda has a reputation for being a model refugee-hosting country. The East African nation enacted progressive refugee-related legislation in 2006 and 2010.

In resettling refugees, Uganda uses an open settlement policy that does not confine refugees to camps. They are assigned a plot of land for cultivation. Refugees in Uganda have freedom of movement, can access education with locals and engage in some income-generating ventures.

The Uganda model is by no means perfect. It could be better. Many shortcomings, gaps and challenges have been observed, especially in implementation. Nonetheless, it remains a better template than what many refugees are subjected to when they leave their homeland and become refugees.

Welcome, protect, promote and integrate

Care for refugees and migrants is a key theme of Pope Francis’ Pontificate. He has consistently emphasised the need to welcome, protect, promote and integrate them. The Uganda media workshop thus seeks to complement Pope Francis’s enduring pastoral mission towards migrants and refugees.

The workshop is financially supported by a communication grant provided to SIGNIS Africa by the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith under the auspices of the Dicastery for Evangelisation.

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04 May 2023, 16:11