IOM Encourages Ukrainian Youth to Get Positive Experience of Cultural Diversity

30 January 2012

A public awareness campaign inviting next generation of Ukrainian men and women to ?Experience Cultural Diversity!? has been launched in Ukraine by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with the support of the American Bar Association and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, of the U.S. Department of State.

International Master in Sports, well-known automobile expert and musician of the band ?Indianapolis? Oleksii Mochanov and ?Mandry? band frontman Serhii Fomenko (Foma) starred in the PSAs, campaigning for tolerance and supporting cultural diversity among Ukrainian youth.

?As a musician I?m travelling around the globe. Being abroad I?m a foreigner, a guest, but I always have a possibility to communicate and socialize. If there is racism in a country it?s closed for communications, information sharing and development. I hate intolerance because it?s the reason for many wars in the world. I stand for openness and dialogue,? says Serhii Fomenko.

Oleksii Mochanov explains his decision to join the campaign by his willingness to promote the idea of equality: ?People might have a different social background, but they all are equal?.

?While there is growing recognition that migrants often play an important role in the socio-economic development of the country of destination and its cultural life, the overall perception of migrants in many societies tends to be negative,? says IOM Ukraine?s Chief of Mission Manfred Profazi. ?Sending the right message to Ukrainian youth, who are the future generation shaping tomorrow?s society, is key to creating a culture of acceptance and tolerance.?

?American Bar Association recognizes that intolerance in all its forms cannot be rid from society through decrees and laws alone.  Hatred, racism and xenophobia are based on ignorance of other cultures, religions, and values, and fear of sharing power with other groups of people,? says American Bar Association - Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) Country Director for Ukraine Michael T. Lechner. ?The best weapon against ignorance is education.  This public awareness campaign is an important step to educate citizens, especially youth, that to become a vibrant democracy, we must respect one another and celebrate our differences.?

The public awareness campaign will be rolled out in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa and Simferopol. These cities were chosen because the far-right groups are most active there.

23 suspected racially motivated attacks committed Ukraine in 2011 were reported to the Diversity Initiative (http://diversipedia.org.ua/), a network of organizations co-chaired by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration. This figure is three times higher than in 2010. In total, 40 persons became victims of these crimes, mainly from African and Asian nations, and the majority of them were young students. Unfortunately, it is also likely that this is not the total number of attacks due to under-reporting from victims.

For further information please contact IOM Ukraine Communications Officer Ms. Varvara Zhluktenko (568 50 15, 067 447 97 92, vzhluktenko@iom.int)

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