In this edition of MIEUX Reflections, the ICMPD Local Representative in Moldova, Ms. Diana Hincu, shares first-hand insights on an Action focused on crisis communications with the General Inspectorate of Border Police (GIBP) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in Moldova.
In June 2018, MIEUX concluded an Action in Moldova on communication on irregular migration, implemented at the request of the General Inspectorate of Border Police (GIBP) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Moldova. The objective of this cooperation was to build the capacity of the Ministry to communicate more effectively with the media, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the public on irregular migration. This Action will reinforce the Ministry’s institutional reform related to the Association Agenda between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Moldova. The final product of the Action is a crisis communication media plan in the field of irregular migration, developed by a designated working group that was created by the MIA.
The ICMPD Local Representative in Moldova, Ms. Diana Hincu, has accompanied the Action from beginning to end and has shared first-hand insights.
MIEUX: What is the importance of this Action in the context of Moldova?
This MIEUX Action has helped to expand the MIA’s public relations capacity, specifically with regard to crisis management. It has been the first MIEUX Action in Moldova to focus exclusively on communication in the field of migration.
The GIBP found the diverse activities useful for its day-to-day work, particularly the practical exercises, simulations, interviews and the generally interactive character of the training.
Besides providing training to the GIBP staff in the field of communication, the Action also presented an opportunity to network and exchange experiences with EU Member State (MS) experts from Italy, Romania and Slovenia, enabling the transfer of knowledge between institutions.
The Action called on the participants to reflect upon relations with the media and existing challenges. Could you describe how the Moldovan authorities envisage cooperation with civil society and the media moving forward?
An important finding of the Action is that there is a need to consolidate cooperation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the public in the field of migration. At present, there is no platform for information or data exchange between civil society and the GIBP, and a lack of NGOs specialised in migration which often leads to the misinterpretation of migration-related events.
The Action’s activities provided an opportunity to brainstorm on the perception of migration by the public in Moldova, and to identify possibilities for positive media coverage. The beneficiaries of the training had the possibility to learn about different methods of communication, i.e. in crisis situations, and to understand how to make value of modern communication techniques such as social networks.
In this regard, and based on EU best practices, the MIA wants to further explore how cooperation can be strengthened, bearing in mind the importance of empathy and a transparent way of communication. The GIBP is also considering inviting journalists to their events more often, and eventually organising common meetings on a regular basis, in order to diversify media coverage and to deliver key messages in a coordinated manner.
What innovations has the MIEUX Action introduced for the Moldovan authorities?
Being the first MIEUX Action in Moldova to focus primarily on communication, it presented a mix of tailored elements, such as simulation exercises, a study visit and drafting sessions. Training in communication techniques, in conjunction with knowledge exchange on migration-related crisis situations, was a response to a very specific need of the beneficiary.
The idea to draft a communication plan arose during the Action assessment mission and the first training session: Moldovan stakeholders familiarised themselves with EU lessons learnt (in particular in relation to the European migrant crisis), highlighted the importance of coordinated communication in a crisis situation, and deemed it necessary to develop a plan.
The process of drafting the plan has raised the understanding of communication techniques and the importance of a preventive approach. As a team-building exercise, it also brought about better internal communication, delineating the roles of each unit. Finally, the communication plan was shared with other units of the MIA to be used and piloted further in their institutional development processes.