15 May 2014, Płock, Poland - It is undeniable that migration causes public anxiety and unease. General attitudes towards migrants are strongly influenced by public perception and the media, and people are often misinformed – for instance on the actual size of the migrant population – partly due to the government and the media’s failure to inform accurately. It is in this context that UNITAR’s Learning Platform on Human Mobility (LPHM), part of the broader Human Mobility Programme, organised its first course on "Addressing Public Perceptions of Migrants, Mastering Communication Strategies and Partnering with the Media" on 15-16 May 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium. Other countries represented in this course were South Africa, Senegal and Belgium.

UNITAR’s Human Mobility Programme and its LPHM draw from the well-established global network of CIFAL Training Centres that deliver capacity development to municipal and regional authorities on all aspects of access to basic services and global challenges met through local governance solutions. Since 2012, migration is being integrated into the training priorities of different CIFAL Centres across the globe. In this capacity, delegates of the CIFAL Centre in Płock, Poland, who participated in the LPHM Course on "Addressing Public Perceptions of Migrants, Mastering Communication Strategies and Partnering with the Media," have organized an international conference on “The Role of Media in Creating the Public Perception of Migration” on 15 May 2014.

CIFAL Płock’s decision to actively apply their recent Course material comes at a time when Poland is set to implement a new Act on foreigners on 1 May 2014, facilitating the legalisation of foreigners working or studying in the country. The Act is widely considered part of a positive and progressive view towards migration at a time when nationalism and right-wing populism sees most European countries severely tightening their migration policies, most recently exemplified by the Swiss referendum vote to impose quotas on newcomers to the country, despite the fact that one fourth of its population are immigrants.

The Płock Conference gathered experts from UNITAR, IOM, UNHCR and Storytegic. It took place in the Museum of Mazovian Jewish in the City of Płock and was open to representatives of the media, high-level authorities from local governments and the private sector, NGOs and community-based organizations, academic institutions and other local actors. (The Programme of the Conference)