The Latvian Foreign Ministry has requested that the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), also called the UN Refugee Agency, modify the communication of its "We would do the same!" campaign in Latvia, which has faced public criticism, the ministry reported.
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics' (Unity) adviser Martins Dregeris said that the ministry has appealed to the UNCHR to change the campaign, summarising the Baltic region's history and explaining that portions of Latvian society have disapproved of the campaign, such as the National Armed Forces and National Guard.
"We have asked our ambassador in Geneva to (communicate) the concerns raised by the Defense Ministry to the UN Refugee Agency. We have asked to adjust the campaign's communication," Dregeris stated. The Foreign Ministry also voiced its optimism that the advertising campaign will be altered favourably.
The campaign "We would do the same!" will run from August until December, publicising videos and posters portraying actual refugees now living in Latvia. In one sentence they disclose why they were forced to flee their homeland. Beside them are Latvian residents who confess that they would do the same in a similar position. Additionally there are also graphics showing data about education and employment in Latvia and Syria before war started there. The campaign has been implemented in all three Baltic nations.
The Defense Ministry’s state secretary Janis Garisons noted that the campaign gave the impression Latvians would run rather than fight for their country. This is hurtful not only to the National Armed Forces troops, but also to the home guards who devote their free time to defense training, he said.
The Defense Ministry requested that the Foreign Ministry help terminate the campaign.
DDB Latvija advertising agency, as a creative partner of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), said on Tuesday it would change the tone of the UNHCR campaign.
DDB Latvija head Andris Rubins confessed that the public reaction to the campaign indicated that its key message and aim had given many the wrong impression.
"The topic is indeed urgent, complex and sensitive. On behalf of the DDB Latvija team, we apologise to everyone who has been insulted by this campaign. Considering the situation, DDB Latvija, as the UNHCR's creative partner, has decided to revise the campaign's further communication and make the necessary changes to prevent misunderstandings in the future," Rubins stated.
He said that the UNHCR campaign "We would do the same!" depicts real people who are escaping violence and persecution and who need international protection. Every minute around 24 people are must flee their homes, and half of all refugees are children.
"The goal of the campaign ‘We would do the same!’ is to promote empathy with the refugees and asylum-seekers and to remind that they are people who have found themselves in inhumane circumstances and are seeking refuge. Including in Latvia. The campaign has never aimed to cause divisions in Latvia's society or to offend someone," said Rubins.