In this session, we revisited a topic we came across while running the migrant media network project: a discussion about migration, technology, border control, and migration and technology in general. Due to the perceived or real increase in complexity of migration, governments are increasingly turning to emerge technologies for solutions. These technologies come with promises of effectiveness, efficiency, fairness, and protection. The questions, however, that need to be asked are:
Can technology be neutral?
Does it impact people from different backgrounds equally?
How do fairness and protection work in a society marked by great inequality?
Understanding migration and its patterns and flows, both in the mid-term and long-term, has continued to be difficult. This has been made even more challenging due to the highly dynamic nature of migration and the people’s accelerated mobility. Due to all of these factors, policymakers and decision-makers find themselves in a situation in which they are often needing to act reactively, rather than proactively. While we accept that there isn’t a crystal ball that can give us definite answers to a topic that is increasingly uncertain and volatile, we believe that this uncertainty can be reduced by having an inclusive discussion that brings together all #stakeholders.Invisible Borders and Outsourcing of Borders Migration #Technology and Data Protection .
Sustainable, positive alternatives to regular migration @weareGIG Hosted by: Thomas Kalunge Speakers: Tiziano & Don Mattia Ferrari – Mediterranea Saving Humans Peter Narh – Researcher, Lecturer University of Ghana Legon Rhoda Wedam – Song- Ba Empowerment Center Ghana Linda Bonyo – CEO | Lawyers Hub (Tech for Justice) & Africa Law Tech
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Facing invisible borders, every year thousands of people from developing countries apply for a visa to western countries and face an often tedious visa application process. They worry about whether they have the right documents or whether a typo might put their application directly into the reject pile and anxiously await a response. At best, successfully getting a visa is a completely mystifying process. At worst, after doing all the hard work, their visa gets denied.
Are the strict regulations governing access to the consulate and the complicated application process strategically designed to induce fear? If so, why?
The Borders of Fear Meetup: Facing Invisible Borders was organized by the Disruption Network Lab and held on October 28, 2020 from 19:00-22:00 at ACUD Macht Neu in Berlin’s Mitte district. It was hosted by Thomas C. Kalunge of the #MigrantMediaNetwork. Thomas sought to answer questions related to the journey of a potential migrant to Germany using design thinking.
Migrantmedianetwork provides young Africans with reliable information and training on migration issues and social media, in order to help others make informed decisions and be aware of safer migration options to Europe.
The German & European community was of particular focus in this #MMN meetup, with 13 Germans and other European citizens of the German community taking part in the event that welcomed 25 participants overall. Thomas began the evening by presenting on how a design thinking methodology could help us gain a deeper knowledge of the situation. He then took participants on a hypothetical journey that detailed the steps an individual coming from a developing country would have to take in order to apply for a visa to come to Germany as a migrant. In walking participants through this visa application process, he was able to make the invisible border visible, showing all of the hurdles that exist along the way.
As of July 2020, the German passport was ranked as the 3rd strongest passport in the world: German passport holders can travel to about 189 countries without a visa. The problems surrounding visa applications was therefore new to Germans, or citizens of the European Union, and highlighted the inequity faced by others whose citizenship does not bestow upon them these privileges. The evening event was designed to be experiential in nature and covered the following topics:
Role Play: Visa Application Process All participants were briefed and asked to arrange their documents in order and proceed to the gate for security control before they proceeded to the consulate. Consulate setup: There were three consulates onsite ready to process the visa application forms of the participants. The participants went through two security checks: all required documents were checked, and electronic gadgets were left at the gate by the security checkpoint.
5 out of 20 participants were granted a visa, leaving 15 participants without visa. Participants were rejected based on the following criteria:
Failure to answer odd questions
Failure to submit required documents
No reason given
Through role playing participants were able to in a small way experience the nature of the visa application process in developing countries.
After this, the group discussed and sought answers and solutions to these questions:
What are the challenges that potential migrants face in the migration process, especially for those from developing countries?
Why do some of the migrants choose to not even try to apply for a visa and instead take the irregular (backdoor) path, even in cases where the backdoor path costs more money than the regular path?
Are the strict regulations governing access the consulate and the complicated application process strategically designed to induce fear? If so, why?
Discussing policy and public dialogue In the past, the German government has called for public dialogue and suggestions for how to make the visa application process more humane. Yet at the same time, more border security was put in place and they have begun to strategically grant fewer visa. This led to demonstrations in front of embassies in developing countries and drastically increased irregular (backdoor) migration.
Based on this information and the role play, participants where divided into three groups to brainstorm and discuss these questions:
Have you applied for visa before?
How was your application?
What made it difficult or easy for you?
How did this process make you feel?
Do you see any fault in the process?
How can this process be made more effective?
What could be changed about the process?
Outcome The workshop was designed to foster discussion and allow participants to gain a better understanding of the hurdles that stand in the way of applying for a visa and using the prescribed path to migration. These goals were met. Participants came up with ideas and solutions they were ready and willing to share with the German government in the context of the public dialogue surrounding migration and the visa application process. Ideas garnered from the discussions:
Provide clear information on the official websites
Websites need to be functional and user-friendly
There should be offline info-centers
Provide clear information on the reason for a rejection
More funding to have sufficient & well-trained staff
Greater transparency of the process
Decentralized Consulates / Agencies for more accessibility
Ban discriminating & intimidating behavior on the part of agency or staff
Another group argued that the process should be free and would be more fair if the following were implemented:
Personnel should be well-informed / educated in order to provide accurate answers
The process should be anonymous
Provide a clear checklist of requirements/ documents (available online and offline at the consulate)
Forbid questions related to socio-economic status
Provide visa assistance through simple language forms and someone who does a pre-check for accuracy and typos
Examining the root causes of problems more extensively
Stop media fear mongering
Digitalize the visa process (automation could decrease risk of prejudice / racism in interviews)
Reduce “ultra security” in application centers.
Written by Benedictus Agbelom
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Werkstatt – Haus der Statistik Berlin Mitte Karl-Marx-Allee 1 10178 Berlin
engaging diaspora communities in social media awareness e& open tech innovation to foster informed migration choices
introduction by: Fortune Agbele – Political Science Researcher, University of Bayreuth
Please join our team of Berlin and regional based Ghanaian trainers reporting from their experiences in running community based social media skills & migration workshops in their home communities in Ghana. Linking online resources with mobile offline and regional telecommunications systems, including the Raspberry Pi powered HyracBox offline server, a migrant information and entrepreneurship oriented USSD system, #MMN is also developing a comprehensive print anddigital Field Guide for trainers and community leaders.
#MMN – Migrant Media Network is a project by Berlin-based r0g_agency for open culture & critical transformation gGmbH to develop reliable public information and training on social media skills to foster informed and safe choices regarding migration issues. register
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4-day Workshop on Social Media Sensitization and Migration in Berlin
WHEN: July 17-18 and 22-23, 2019
WHERE: r0g_agency for Open Culture and Critical Transformation, Knobelsdorffstraße 22, 14059 Berlin
CONTACT: Thomas Gitonga Kalunge, firstname.lastname@example.org, +491772426390
Aim: Training Ghanaian diaspora in Germany to become trainers on social media sensitization in the areas of regular and irregular migration.
Phase 1 – Participants will learn about engaging responsibly with social media and be equipped with basic training skills on how to organize workshops on social media sensitization in Ghana.
Phase 2 – Four of the trained participants will be supported with materials and guidelines to conduct social media sensitization training workshops in their region of origin in Ghana around the ethical use of social media, irregular vs regular migration and tackling human traffickers’ deceptions.
Why you should participate:
Be part of a pioneer group of Ghanaian trainers
Become a certified trainer on social media sensitization
Help mitigate the lies of human traffickers
Tell your own success stories on migration
Co-create print and offline/online digital materials on topics around migration and social media
Food and beverages will be provided during the workshop.
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Migrant Media Network is a project by r0g_agency funded by the German Foreign Office. It seeks to foster an informed decision-making process regarding migration to Europe by creating awareness on migration issues & social media sensitization.