Russia & UNESCO push for 'generation without racial, ethnic, religious prejudice'

© Ronen Zvulun
In an effort to find a solution to Europe's migration crisis, Russia's Federal Center for Tolerance has teamed up with UNESCO, campaigning to bring up a “new generation” of children and teachers “free from racial, ethnic and religious stereotypes.”

Acting with the support of the Russian Federation of Jewish Communities at Moscow's Jewish Museum, Russia's Federal Center for Tolerance and UNESCO held their first joint conference on migration earlier this week.

The conference, "Migration for Sustainable Development: Social transformations, media discourses and education," took place in UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, and was attended by leading experts in social sciences and humanities from more than 30 countries.

“The organization of this conference plays an important role in solving a burning issue – that of the current migration crisis in Europe. Through this project, the Center of Tolerance managed to provide the latest interactive methods in educational activities, along with a scientific and methodological base,” Aleksandr Boroda, head of Russian Federation of Jewish Communities and General Director of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, said in a statement.

Boroda added that publications describing the above mentioned experience are set to come out in the near future.

“It was also decided to conduct a global campaign (supported by the UNESCO Network of Associated Schools) and called 'With an Open Heart and Mind to the Refugees.' This campaign will be implemented in six languages in 10,000 educational institutions in 181 countries, and is aimed at children of pre-school, primary and secondary school age, as well as at teachers-to-be. We hope this program will help educate a new generation that is free from racial, ethnic and religious stereotypes, while maintaining their own values and culture in a difficult situation we currently face with the migration and assimilation," Boroda said.

"I am convinced that an effective and timely measure for a sustainable development is to increase the role of education as the basis for the world's political behavior, and the role of UNESCO, based on universal moral principles and inseparable rights and freedoms of the individual, is key," Benjamin Kaganov, Russia's Deputy Minister of Education and Science, said.

Frank La Rue, assistant director-general of UNESCO for Communication and Information, said the challenge is to boost international understanding and tolerance.

"This impressive joint project of UNESCO and the Russian Federal Scientific and Methodological Center in the field of psychology and pedagogy of tolerance provides an opportunity for international cooperation, which aims to find answers to the pressing issues related to migration, as well as to increase the level of mutual understanding and tolerance,” he said. “We should not consider migrants as victims, even less so as a threat. Migrants are the same people, just like any other individuals, enjoying full human rights," Frank La Rue stressed.

Russia’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, Eleonora Mitrofanova, said it was only natural for a country that has the second-largest foreign migrant population in the world to be the co-organizer of a key conference on migration.

"It seems reasonable that the co-organizer of our conference, along with UNESCO, is Russia's Tolerance Center. In our country, we know what migration is not by hearsay. Russia hosts the world's largest population of immigrants after the US. Up to 12 million migrants live in Russia. We've got a large experience regulating migration flows, and we share it," Mitrofanova said.

Humanity & migration 'two sides of the same coin'

Europe is currently facing its worst refugee crisis since World War II. Last year alone some 1.8 million asylum-seekers entered the European Union fleeing war and poverty in Middle-Eastern countries, according to data from the European Union border agency Frontex.

Humanity and migration are actually “two sides of the same coin, enjoying a symbiotic relationship that will never be broken no matter how much people and politicians may try,” RT contributor John Wight recently wrote in an opinion piece.

“Absorbing migrants from other parts of the EU has become a particular concern in countries where austerity has been most severe in response to the economic crisis. Cutting spending on welfare, on health, education, and housing, merely increases the demand, especially on the part of the poorer sections of the population, which relies on them most. This inevitably results in increased hostility towards migrants; hostility is easily exploited by the political and far right for ideological reasons,” he added.

Stopping immigration by setting quotas and implementing tougher border controls and measures is “futile,” according to Wight.

“The only way to reduce it is to deal with its underlying causes – namely inequality, poverty, and unfettered capitalism,” the analyst concluded.

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