The United Nations is launching a UK advertising campaign to promote positive images of refugees, following concern that nationalism and xenophobia have turned public opinion against them.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has secured funding from the European Commission to create a press campaign – in 15 languages – to run across the continent. It will break in the UK next week.
The campaign, by Finnish agency Taivas, promotes the integration of refugees in the European Union.
It uses European stereotypes – including French cuisine, a Swedish blonde and a Spanish dancer – to show that they are most often inaccurate.
It is the first time that the UNHCR has used ads to challenge the public’s negative image of refugees.
UNHCR spokeswoman Lyndall Sachs says there is growing concern that refugees are increasingly seen as a burden.
She says: “The aim is to get people to think of refugees as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances who, given the opportunity, use their skills to contribute in many ways to the community that welcomes them.”
The UNHCR is asking national and regional newspapers to run the campaign for free.
It has already been launched in some parts of Europe, including Germany, France, Spain and Greece, where the accompanying campaign video has aired on some TV networks.