IOM hosts film screening in celebration of International Migrants Day
30 December 2021
In recognition of International Migrants Day, which is celebrated globally on December 18, the Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) was hosted.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Port of Spain Office hosted the Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) on December 11 in recognition of International Migrants Day, which is celebrated globally on December 18.
The film festival was held at Estate 101, Maraval and IOM Port of Spain Head of Office Jewel Ali brought opening remarks.
“For decades, the IOM has been working with migrants and host communities to reduce prejudice and prevent xenophobia through the facilitation of positive interaction between the two groups, as well as working on targeted campaigns to promote a more balanced narrative on migration,” said Ali.
“As such, IOM strives to create safe spaces for discussion to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an accessible way through storytelling; and to reinforce the positive impact that film institutions can make. It is hoped that through this screening here in Trinidad and Tobago we collectively continue to positively shape the perception of migrants, promote diversity and deeper and wider policy integration as well as address and counter misinformation, xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance towards migrants.”
Also bringing remarks on the evening was US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago Political Officer John Miller.
“The history of the world includes stories of migration in every era. Our collective history is one of migration and of change. As the world has grown more sophisticated, migration patterns have changed. We find ourselves at a crossroads here with the Venezuelan crisis. The United States remains committed to improving the respect for human rights in Trinidad and Tobago and will continue focusing attention on refugees, vulnerable migrants, people with disabilities, people living with HIV, the LGBTQI + community and other marginalised groups,” said Miller.
IOM, having recognised the vital role that films play in highlighting relevant issues within our international and national landscapes, launched the first GMFF in 2016. Since then, the festival has been held annually in 100 countries, to showcase the promise and challenges of migration through films and documentaries.
The film selected for the local edition was 2019 Trinidad and Tobago documentary Nearest Neighbours. The short film tells the story of Venezuelan migrants who are forced from their homeland to TT, with hopes of bettering their own lives and that of their families, while confronting various hurdles. Following the screening a panel discussion was moderated by Institute of International Relations, at The UWI lecturer Dr. Michal Pawinski and the panelists were Archbishop of Port of Spain Dr. Charles Jason Gordon, Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews, Co-Chair of the R4V Platform Miriam Aertker, and Nearest Neighbours director Rhonda Chan Soo.
Archbishop Gordon in his opening statement said a touchpoint of the movie for him is the “lost opportunity”.
“We’ve been talking about a pivot to the South. I really believe if we brought migrant children speaking Spanish into our English classrooms, we would have a bilingual nation in the next ten years. We’ve been talking about Spanish, we’ve put the names on the streets and the single, easiest way to move Spanish through the next generation – we don’t want to do it.”
Gandhi-Andrews in her opening statement said the influx of migrants and in particular Venezuelan migrants was something unique to Trinidad and Tobago.
“It was unprecedented. The 2019 registration exercise was a recognition that we needed to do something to assist Venezuelan nationals – to help them to work legally so that fear of being jailed would be eliminated. We registered over 16,000 people in two weeks. The registration exercise conducted this year was also meant to keep those persons in a legal state.”
Among those in attendance at the Festival were Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Laventille East/Morvant MP Adrian Leonce, senior technocrats from the government, members of the diplomatic community, representatives of UN Agencies, members of the Gender-Based Violence Unit of TT Police Service, members of the TT Coast Guard, members of the Scout Association of TT, civil society representatives, and representatives of the migrant community including students.
The Festival was made possible through the continued support of the U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. The GMFF is being hosted by IOM Offices in various countries from November 28th to December 18th, when it culminates on International Migrants Day. On December 4, 2020 the United Nations General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day. On that day, in 1990, the Assembly also adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families. This year’s theme for International Migrants Day is “Harnessing the Potential for Human Mobility”.