A German media report said the European Union and Switzerland have started a television, radio and poster campaign in African countries to keep potential illegal migrants from trying to immigrate to Europe.
The Spanish Coast Guard regularly rescues Africans fleeing home in dilapidated boats
Switzerland's migration authority initiated and directed the campaign, which has included producing a promotional film during the past few months meant to scare away potential illegal immigrants, according to German business daily Handelsblatt.
The paper reported on Monday, Nov. 26, that a spokesperson for Switzerland's Federal Migration Office in Berne confirmed the ad was being shown on television in Cameroon and Nigeria, and may soon be aired in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it had actually produced the campaign, which was funded by the Swiss migration office.
Immigrants hanging on a tuna fishing net after their boat sank off the coast of Malta
The aim of the campaign is to "give a more balanced view of irregular migration networks," IOM spokesman Jean-Philippe Chauzy told AFP news agency.
Some African migrants pay thousands of dollars to smuggling networks who promise them that life in Switzerland or other European countries will be easy, without warning them of the risks of exploitation, poverty and deportation they will face, Chauzy said.
Many others die in their attempts to flee African countries by water.
"Stay home, since Europe is not the continent of milk and honey. No one's waiting for you there," Handelsblatt summarized the message of the film to be. "Fleeing does not mean starting a new life," the last sentence of the film states.
A sequence of images in the film includes a telephone ringing with an older, black man in a cozy apartment picking it up to hear his son on the other end. The father asks his son if he's found a home and how his studies are going. The son is then shown in a grungy camp under a bridge, but answers that everything is fine. More images appear, showing him sitting on the side of the street and begging, and then later being picked up by police.
The film continues along the same vein for almost two more minutes.
Handelsblatt reported that the film is part of a 250,000-euro ($371,000) campaign by the European Union and Switzerland to stem illegal emigration where it starts.
Film shown during soccer games
Somalian women held in a refugee camp on Malta
The film was shown on Nigeria's state television channel during half-time of an international soccer match between Nigeria and Switzerland last week. There are a huge number of potential immigrants in these countries and we want to show them that Europe is no paradise," the spokesperson for Switzerland's Migration Office told Handelsblatt.
The IOM has produced similar ads in Senegal and Niger, funded by Spain and the European Union respectively, Chauzy told AFP.
He also said such ads were a "useful tool" in trying to combat people-smuggling.
Switzerland's right-wing justice minister Christoph Blocher, whose ministry controls the Migration Office, supports the campaign. He, too, told the Swiss paper SonntagsBlick that "we must show the Africans that Switzerland is not paradise."
Blocher's populist Swiss People's Party won the majority of votes in last month's federal elections after a campaign that focused heavily on immigration.
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