“Mission” by RAI1. A time bomb?

31 Lug

The first episode of the humanitarian reality show, The  Mission, also known as Social Experiment or Fiction Documentary by some experts in the field organized by RAI, UNHCR Italy and Intersos, should going air on RAI Uno next November 27, Wednesday, as announced by the autumn schedule Rai1 2013. A transmission will remain in history as four months before its airing is able to open a debate on Facebook, Twitter, information web sites and within the world of Italian voluntary.

The goal of RAI would be to propose, through this social experiment, as a means of advertising the cause of the most excluded and the engagement of humanitarian workers in order to create greater awareness in the audience. From the rumors collected production will not be focused on the suffering and desperation of refugees but rather on the positive and concrete commitment of humanitarian workers on the stories of refugees and the reasons for fleeing from their native countries. Each episode of The Mission will be introduced by a accurate explanation of the social, historical, political and cultural development of each country visited in order to offer the public with adequate information and to avoid the spectacularization of refugees. Laura Lucci, head of UNHCR Italy ensures that they are focusing on a program of information. The presence of UNHCR will ensure that they are only collected the stories of refugees volunteers standing up supervisor of the right of privacy and personal freedom of each individual.


The increase of awareness and private story telling by refugees will help, according intentions of the promoters, to make public opinion more open and sensible on issues such as illegal immigration and the reasons that lead to the desperate search of a better life through the Mediterranean.

These stringent protective measures in protection of the dignity of the refugee and the true intent largely explained are the basis for the refusal of the organizers of The Mission to categorize the operation as a reality show. Intersos prefers to call it a Fiction Documentary while RAI an Social Experiment

Information and assurances given by RAI Italy and UNHCR should put an end to the stream of indignation against The Mission since it is not a vulgar reality show but a much higher levels transmission for contents and educational purposes.

Yet remain a series of disturbing questions and some news that seem to cast doubt and perplexity.

The first question concerns the presence of VIPs from the entertainment world. How will mixed the fields of culture and information of the situation of the South Sudanese and Congolese refugees with these testimonials? The episodes of The Mission are not likely to be focus on VIP needy, as the RAI, of advertising and related income? None of this ensures RAI and UNHCR. The VIP’s, working side by side with the humanitarian workers giving assistance at the testimonials a situation of chronic discomfort that will be finally made aware of the general public.

Accepting the premise, there is a risk that these celebrities hinder the daily work of humanitarian workers Intersos, distracting attention and energy normally directed at beneficiaries? Aid workers involved in emergency projects, known for their difficulty and workload source of physical and mental stress, will be able to ensure both, with priority to daily assistance to refugees? Hard to get answers. The operators of Intersos contacted keep silence as if they had received directives.

Which sensibility and right approach can have these VIP front the refugees? The statements newly made hot by Al Bano Carrisi with the German newspaper Express that speak of her sex life with a wink to gallant adventures with his fans, may not be a solid foundation for the task of testimonial of the conditions of men and women whose lives destroyed due to wars and ethnic violence.

What will be the role of the refugees? In a broadcast set as The Mission are not likely to become local extras folklore background to the adventures of the VIP? Despite the reassurances of UNHCR Italy are we really sure that these refugees, most traumatized by unspeakable violence suffered and illiterate participants will be aware and proactive of the reality show or documentary finction how you want to call?

Even the name of refugees continually used by the promoters and organizers of The Mission is improper for both the Congo to South Sudan. In fact, the refugee camps of both countries that will be the backdrop to the transmission are formed by IDP (Internal Deplaced Peoples), displaced Congolese and South Sudanese fled the violence of war. Yet they insist to represent them as refugees perhaps because stories and reasons for the presupposed fleeing from their native countries will create more audience even if based on a mystification of the bottom.

This confusion between refugees and internally displaced persons has not even been understood by the VIPs who should share the pain of these unfortunate according to script. During the recent interview of Libero (Italian daily) Al Bano says: “I will go for ten days in South Sudan and I have to say that this experience excites me a lot. The contact with people who are obliged to leave their homeland, to live away waiting for better times in their country of origin is touching. They are people who have seen the face of suffering, and I will make sure to soothe, to what I can, their sadness. I will try to be one of them in every way. “The Italian pop singer could have the bitter surprise of not having to deal with foreign refugees but with Congolese and South Sudanese fleeing from violence inflicted by their own countrymen, they hardly have something to share with his wealthy life in Italy.

The head of UNHCR Lucci, and his colleague Vittorio Alonzo has just returned from Duruma, to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where was filmed the first episode of The Mission with the participation of Paola Barale and Emmanuele Filiberto of Savoy. Info Received the two VIP and the staff of the Agency’s Roman multimedia production: Dinamo Italy Srl that won the making of The Mission on behalf of the RAI, they would reach the congolese town from Uganda while the responsible UNHCR Italy accompanied by  staff Intersos: Paola Amicucci and Mauro Celledin from South Sudan. The details of this mission are covered by secrecy, although incomplete information we have received have raised doubt that the initiative of UNHCR Italy is not totally shared by UNHCR South Sudan.

It is clear that Intersis fully supports this initiative debatable perhaps in the hope of increasing their fundrising and of pleasing at the same funder, UNHCR in South Sudan is drastically cutting its commitment not renewing the contracts of assistance to the internally displaced persons of various NGOs including intersos. Being the main donor projects spread across five states of South Sudan: Western Equatoria, Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile and Warrap, the NGO Roman if not find alternative lenders risk a painful cutting operations in South Sudan. Do not seem this a contradiction? Intersos has carefully weighted the pros and cons, including the risk of getting a return negative advertising, in this adventure?

Yet Intersos until now has enjoyed esteem and respect for his commitment not least that ongoing in Afghanistan amply illustrated by Alda Cappelletti in an interview recently appeared on The Indro (Italian daily). Was founded in 1992, the humanitarian efforts of the roman NGO  is based on the values of solidarity, justice, human dignity, respect for diversity and the rights and equal opportunities for all people, especially the most vulnerable. Intersos identifies with the values of CONCORD, the European Confederation of NGOs and adhering to international codes of conduct for humanitarian organizations. What has changed within this NGO to to accept embark on an operation that since its starting in the distant lands of Africa is raising criticism and indignation among the voluntary sector and a part of Italian public opinion?

There is reason to suspect that The Mission risks can to be part of spam shows  originated from of subculture where two decades Berlusconi’s period have teached to make audience you can pass all bounds including the dignity of distant IDPs who will never see the program not being able to access a satellite subscription, and for this reason, in addition to the language barrier, they will never give their views on the reality show despite having been unaware of humanitarian actors minors. For this reason there is to be hoped that The Mission is interrupted in spite of the money already spent on the first recordings of the pilot episode (which took place in Yambio, South Sudan, in 2012) and in Duruma recorded in July 2013. This decision would avoid embarrassment not only to developers but to all other non-governmental organizations. Food would avoid most of the negative feelings against the cooperation that the public is feeding for a few years.

I want to finish with the hope of not having to occupy most of this case as “classified”, I agree with a speech by an aid worker: Sarah Lupu, commenting on an article that appeared on the website of FOCSIV. Sarah hopes that this TV show will be canceled and proposes to involve professionals cooperation, to submit a counter television program that really brings out the people, the stories and the professionals involved.

by Carlo Cattaneo
Italy, Rome


10 Risposte to ““Mission” by RAI1. A time bomb?”

  1. Tiziana 2 agosto 2013 a 19:36 #

    L’articolo è valido, l’inglese molto scorretto

  2. carlotta 6 agosto 2013 a 22:29 #

    i am an italian aid worker workking with idps and refugees in conflict settings…. this kind of programme is simply unrespectfull of the dignity of our beneficiaries…

  3. Serena.Ta 7 agosto 2013 a 10:02 #

    Dear Carlo, thanks for spreading the news in English: I think it’s important that the ‘outer world’ be aware of what’s going on on Italian tv.
    Here’s the link to a petition launched few days ago, demanding to stop the shooting of this docu-reality: http://www.activism.com/it_IT/petizione/fermiamo-le-riprese-di-the-mission-reality-rai-sui-campi-profughi/44836
    Thanks for signing and sharing it, if you agree. Serena

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