UNESCO Picture

UNESCO workshop raises awareness of the role of culture in peacebuilding and sustainable development in South Sudan

On 14 March 2017, UNESCO invited a broad range of participants from the culture sector in South Sudan to an awareness-raising workshop on the three UNESCO Conventions ratified by South Sudan in 2016, namely: 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions , 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Convened at the UNESCO Office in Juba, the workshop gathered academia from Juba University, NGOs, and Ministry staff responsible for culture, environment and archives to learn more about the guidance and resources offered by these normative instruments for intercultural dialogue, peace building, and sustainable development in South Sudan.

The workshop was opened by the Head of the UNESCO Juba Office, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, who highlighted the challenges posed by the conflict situation in South Sudan to the safeguarding and promotion of its culture. He underscored the importance of culture for national identity and nation building, and the need to promote culture for peace-building and dialogue—especially among the 64 different ethnic groups in South Sudan. Acknowledging the numerous NGOs successfully promoting culture in South Sudan, he recognized the strong local appetite to engage in culture activities. In view of the upcoming submission South Sudan’s Tentative List of World Heritage sites, Mr. Alam urged the national team to maintain the determination needed to finalize the required forms, and called on participants to create a workplan for priority culture actions in South Sudan.

The Culture Programme Specialist from the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Ms. Karalyn Monteil, led detailed presentations on the 1972, 2003 and 2005 Conventions, which provided an introduction to each Convention as well as guidance on developing policies and legislation as well as undertaking inventories of cultural heritage and the creative industries in South Sudan. The funding mechanisms linked with each of the Conventions was also explained in detail, and participants were encouraged to prepare International Assistance requests for policy development, the elaboration of inventories and capacity building.

During the discussions, the participants noted the strong need for awareness-raising of the three Conventions among local populations. The need to mobilize media in South Sudan to help spread the word about the unifying role of culture in South Sudan and to open the discussion to a wider range of stakeholders was widely agreed upon. Lastly, the participants embraced the use of United Nations’ National Days to raise awareness of the potential role of culture in South Sudan and suggested celebrating African World Heritage Day on 5 May, International Museum Day on 18 May and the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on 21 May.

Expressing her satisfaction with the workshop, Dr. Nadia Arop Dudi, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports stated: “It is important to raise awareness about the role of culture in building our national identity in South Sudan and promoting our cultural diversity. The Government of South Sudan is counting on UNESCO’s continued support to increase our national capacities to use the Culture Conventions to sustainably develop the culture sector in South Sudan.”

Following the workshop, UNESCO shall accompany national authorities and experts in South Sudan with the preparation of International Assistance requests to the various funding mechanisms linked with the UNESCO Culture Conventions in view of strengthening their implementation in South Sudan. UNESCO also plans to continue supporting South Sudan with their efforts to create a National Museum and a National Archive in the capital.

WHO Immunization

Amid multiple health challenges and famine, WHO and partners strive to immunize over 3 million children against polio

Despite multiple humanitarian crises, including famine, the first round of the National Immunization Days of 2017 is underway throughout South Sudan aiming to reach over three million children under 5 with two drops of polio vaccine.

The four-day campaign, undertaken by the Ministry of Health with support from WHO and other partners, are part of efforts to ensure that the country remains polio-free and immunization stays in the forefront of primary health care activities. More than 18 000 trained vaccinators will carry out the campaign using both house-to-house and facility-based services to reach all eligible children nationwide.

South Sudan has remained polio-free for the last seven years, but recent cases in Nigeria and the disruption in routine health services, coupled with low coverage of routine immunization, places the country at risk for importation of the virus.

Insecurity, accessibility and logistical challenges continue in many areas, including in Panyinjar, Leer and Mayendit Counties, where famine was recently declared. For the campaign to be effective in these areas, it will be implemented over 10 days to allow for overcoming security and access challenges. To further improve vaccination coverage, special strategies, such as evening vaccination and working with security and rapid response teams with access to insecure, remote areas, will be used.

“Conflict can have devastating, multi-generational impacts, but by leveraging our partnerships in South Sudan, we are able to continue investing in children’s health, which is a vital investment in the country’s future,” said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. “The implementation of vaccination campaigns is a strong opportunity to reach children everywhere in the country with cost-effective, high-impact life-saving interventions and strengthen the systems that deliver these services to the children of South Sudan.”

As the largest contributor to immunization efforts in South Sudan, WHO provided operational and technical support, including deploying senior supervisors to states to support State Ministries of Health to achieve a high percentage of vaccination coverage.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, WHO and its partners, including UNICEF, Rotary International, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others, continue to support South Sudan in remaining polio-free and ensure that efforts are coordinated to protect children and future generations.

WHOPicture

Japan and WHO donate essential equipment to South Sudan’s National Blood Transfusion Services

The Government of Japan and the World Health Organization (WHO) delivered three all-terrain vehicles for the three regional Blood Transfusion Centres in Juba, Wau and Malakal, at the end of their USD 2 million project for boosting blood donation.  The three vehicles are a shot in the arm for the Regional Blood Transfusion Centres to collect more contributions through mobile blood donation drives. This will improve access to the much needed lifesaving blood supplies to health facilities including those in conflict affected areas in order to reduce morbidity and mortality.

On this occasion, Japan and WHO also revealed the additional USD 0.9 million plan to have the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre in Juba fully equipped and operational by next year. Implementing the International Health Regulations of 2005, the PHEOC is key to galvanizing South Sudan’s epidemic preparedness and response. Scaling up of the blood transfusion services will sustain with this fund.

The vehicles were handed over by the Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan, H.E. Kiya Masahiko, to the National Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Riek Gai Kok, in the presence of WHO Country Representative Dr. Abdulmumini Usman.

Kiya Masahiko, the Japanese Ambassador, explains the rationale for Japan’s continued interest in uplifting health profiles of South Sudanese: “As the emergency situation continues in South Sudan, the least we can offer is the reassurance that the life of their loved ones can be saved. The PHEOC and Blood Transfusion Services that were non-operational before our intervention symbolize the people’s right to receive better health services.”

Since 2015, the Government of Japan, through WHO, has allocated USD 4.6 million to support overall humanitarian response including the blood transfusion safety, provision of  lifesaving emergency medicines and supplies, strengthening disease surveillance and outbreak response as well as training of community health workers on communicable disease control.  In mid-2016, the Government of Japan donated the first batch of medical equipment to the National Blood Transfusion Services, including an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) equipment, a rapid diagnostic device for screening against transmissible infections and an automated blood grouping machine, thereby improving on quality and safety of blood supplies. Solar-powered blood cold chain equipment has also been delivered, obviating the chronic challenges of power supply.

“WHO appreciates the sustained contribution to the well-being of the people of South Sudan by the Government of Japan, especially the most vulnerable,” said Dr. Usman. “In the midst of famine and dwindling funds, the dire situation of South Sudanese mothers and children is at risk of going unnoticed. South Sudan remains one of the most protracted crises in the world with 5.8 million people targeted for humanitarian assistance. This contribution is therefore very crucial as it will make a big difference to alleviate avoidable human suffering and loss of life,” added Dr Usman.

UNAIDS urges everyone to make some noise for zero discrimination

Press Release

GENEVA, 1 March 2017—Everyone will have experienced discrimination of some kind during their lives; however, non-discrimination is a human right. Equally, states and individuals have a legal obligation not to discriminate. This year, on 1 March, Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS is urging people to make some noise around zero discrimination, to speak up and prevent discrimination from standing in the way of achieving ambitions, goals and dreams.

Discrimination has many forms, from racial or religious discrimination to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or age, and to bullying at school or at work. In only three out of 10 countries worldwide do equal numbers of girls and boys attend upper secondary school, and people living with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to be denied health care than other people.

“Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, to live free from discrimination, coercion and abuse,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Discrimination doesn’t just hurt individuals, it hurts everyone, whereas welcoming and embracing diversity in all its forms brings benefits for all.”

Zero discrimination is an integral part of UNAIDS’ vision and for this year’s Zero Discrimination Day UNAIDS is calling for zero discrimination in health-care settings. The right to health is a fundamental human right that includes access to affordable, timely and quality health-care services for all, yet discrimination remains widespread in health-care settings, creating a serious barrier to access to HIV services.

“Health-care settings should be safe and supportive environments. It is unacceptable that discrimination is inhibiting access to care today,” said Mr Sidibé. “Eliminating discrimination in health-care settings is critical, and we must demand that it become a reality.”

Data from 50 countries from the People Living with HIV Stigma Index show that one in eight people living with HIV report being denied health care. Around 60% of European Union/European Economic Area countries report that stigma and discrimination among healthcare professionals remains a barrier to the provision of adequate HIV prevention services for men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.

This year, UNAIDS is calling on everyone to make some noise for #zerodiscrimination. Zero Discrimination Day is an opportunity to highlight how everyone can be part of the transformation and take a stand for a fair and just society.
Find out more at unaids.org
[END]
Contact

UNAIDS | Sophie Barton-Knott | tel. +41 22 791 1697 | bartonknotts@unaids.org

UNAIDS

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Kajo Kejo RRT_IOM 2017 (1 of 1)

IOM provides health, shelter aid in volatile areas of South Sudan

IOM is providing emergency health care and shelter assistance to South Sudanese forced to flee their homes due to violence in volatile areas of the country, including Unity and Central Equatoria.

IOM, in coordination with Mercy Corps, is conducting an emergency shelter and non-food item (NFI) kit distribution from 22 February – 3 March for over 9,400 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nyal, Unity. The kits will include blankets, nylon and rubber rope, plastic sheeting, a kanga (cloth) and a large carrying bag.

Nyal, in Unity’s Panyijiar county, has been hosting IDPs from surrounding counties since a military offensive in the area in early 2015. The resurgence of conflict in July 2016 prompted additional displacement in central and southern Unity, with many IDPs either fleeing north toward the Bentiu Protection of Civilians (PoC) site or toward Nyal, which has remained relatively stable.

IDPs in Nyal are living in very difficult circumstances, having fled with little-to-no belongings. They are largely relying on support from local host communities, where already limited resources are rapidly becoming exhausted.

Panyijiar is located in one of the most food insecure areas of South Sudan. The county is classified as facing emergency level food insecurity, meaning that without humanitarian assistance, some families could be facing famine conditions today.

IOM is currently collaborating with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to biometrically register the population in Nyal to inform humanitarian response planning and distributions for the area. The exercise is expected to be complete by April.

In Central Equatoria, which continues to experience episodes of fighting, an IOM rapid response team completed a five-week mission on 23 February to provide emergency health care to over 30,000 IDPs sheltering in volatile Kajo Keji County, west of Kajo Keji town, at IDP sites in Ajio, Kerwa and Logo. IDPs in the area fled fighting in nearby counties, and the majority of reported multiple displacements.

“Families ran from their homes with next to nothing, leaving behind their farms and livelihoods,” explained IOM Health Rapid Response Team Coordinator Derebe Kintamo. “Within three weeks of displacement, our clinics began seeing increasing numbers of cases of malnutrition among children under five. We coordinated with a nearby medical centre to ensure cases of acute malnutrition received prompt treatment.”

The team conducted over 7,700 health consultations, providing general health care, vaccinations against common diseases, nutrition screening and maternal health care.

On completion of the mission, IOM handed over responsibility for the three clinics to the American Refugee Committee and the County Health Department.

In South Sudan, one in every four people has been forced from his or her home due to the crisis that broke out in December 2013. IOM emergency aid operations aim to reach vulnerable populations both in displacement sites and remote areas, many affected by multiple waves of conflict and displacement. In 2017, relief agencies are trying to reach 5.8 million of 7.5 million people currently in need of humanitarian assistance.

WHO Oral vaccination

WHO secures oral cholera vaccines to slow down the spread of cholera in hard to reach areas of South Sudan

In an effort to rapidly contain the resurgence of cholera in South Sudan, WHO has secured oral cholera vaccine to vaccinate the communities in Leer Town and other areas. The 20 February integrated food security phase classification (IPC) identified Leer and Mayendit. With Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that exceed 30% in the two locations. Co-morbidity with cholera will result in rapid spread and high fatality rates.

Since October 2016, Leer town and Mayendit North have been affected by cholera outbreaks with limited humanitarian access.

“Insecurity coupled with sub-optimal access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure allowed the bacteria to spread to 12 counties in 9 states across the country” says Dr Wamala Joseph Francis, WHO Epidemiologist. The complementary oral cholera vaccine vaccination campaigns should interrupt all the residual transmission in high-risk populations and hotspot areas in the immediate term thus allowing time for government and partners to improve access to safe water and sanitation.

Health and WASH cluster partners prioritized nine high-risk populations for emergency complementary oral cholera vaccination. A multi-year plan for complementary oral cholera vaccination alongside improving access to safe water, sanitation, social mobilization, case management, and surveillance will be validated and launched on 9 March 2017.

Cholera is a potentially fatal water-borne disease transmitted through contaminated water and/or food. It causes watery diarrhea and vomiting that can rapidly lead to death through severe dehydration.

To slow the current surge in cholera cases, WHO and partners have secured the initial batch of 68 967 doses of oral cholera vaccine for Leer, Padeah, and Thonyor in Leer county.  MedAir, an emergency operational health cluster partner will coordinate the deployment of the vaccine alongside WFP’s food distribution headcount on 27 February 2017.

“Delivering this safe, affordable and effective oral cholera vaccine in South Sudan is vital to help tackle the rise in cholera cases, said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. While access to clean water and sanitation systems is the ultimate solution to stopping the spread of cholera, we must utilize all tools available to help prevent continued needless deaths,” said Dr Usman.

Since 2014, South Sudan has conducted oral cholera vaccine campaigns on an annual basis, vaccinating over 600 000 people with vaccines sourced from the International Coordinating Group (ICG) emergency stockpile.

WHO and ECHO

WHO and ECHO deliver essential medicines and supplies to communities affected by the cholera outbreak in South Sudan

The world Health Organization (WHO) with support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) have delivered essential medicines and supplies to the communities affected by the cholera outbreak in the Islands of Jonglei and Greater Lakes.

The shipment included full Diarrhoeal Disease Kits (DDKs) sufficient to treat 2 800 cases, oral rehydration solution (ORS) modules and cholera investigation kits in addition to the cholera preparedness and response guidelines. The supplies were deployed along with rapid response teams that are currently working alongside local teams to control the raging outbreaks.

Without access to safe drinking water, food and shelter the affected areas lack even the most basic resources to combat the disease.

“The Islands affected by the cholera outbreak in Jonglei have been hard to reach for over 6 months, leaving people in desperate need of food, water, sanitation, health services and medicines”, said Dr Allan Mpairwe, WHO Health Security and Emergency Officer. Living conditions are very difficult and people’s day-to-day lives are characterized by lack of basic social services including basic and lifesaving medicines, medical supplies and laboratory reagents in the health facilities, Dr Mpairwe added.

With the supplies now in place, six-man rapid response teams (one Medical Officer, two Clinical Officers, one Nurse, one Public Health Officer and Epidemiologist) have been deployed to augment the local response in Bor South, Awriel and Yirol East Counties. The current response entails offering essential medical care to the displaced and to host communities affected by cholera as a first step towards improving the humanitarian situation in the area.   However, with the inaccessibility and instability in the area great concern remains that the humanitarian situation may further deteriorate, and that humanitarian access – and thus response capacity – may be further threatened.

“Supplies were provided thanks to funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO)” said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. “The humanitarian supplies provide vitally needed aid to the most affected population by the conflict”, Dr Usman said.

ECHO and other partners, has been supporting the emergency response through provision of Interagency Emergency Health Kits (IEHK), trauma kits, Diarrhoeal Disease Kits (DDKs) and outbreak investigation kits to ensure humanitarian supplies are delivered and distributed to affected communities as efficiently as possible.

Considering the ongoing response and the increasing health and nutrition needs, WHO is committed to ensuring that all South Sudanese continue to have access to health services, including those in the hardest to access areas through the provision of emergency lifesaving medicines which currently are urgently needed.

IOM relocates 6,000 IDPs to ease overcrowding in Wau

IOM is improving living conditions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the crowded Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Wau, South Sudan. Hosting more than 30,000 IDPs, the Wau PoC site adjacent to the UN peacekeeping base is the most congested displacement camp in the country.

Camp management conducted a relocation exercise from 26 January to 20 February, helping more than 6,000 IDPs move from the most congested areas into over 800 units in 176 communal shelters constructed by IOM teams. Households continue to access common services within the site, such as clinics managed by IOM, International Medical Corps and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Beginning in late 2016, IOM, as camp manager, began developing an extension area to ease congestion and enable families to move away from shelters that were either close to latrines or teetering near drainage ditches. Teams cleared and levelled 40,000m2 of land adjacent to the existing site, installed drainage and water points and constructed roads and pedestrian crossings, in order to facilitate the move.

The day after Rosa, a young mother of six, relocated to a new shelter, she said: “We are so much happier here in this shelter. I can cook outside and there is fresh air because we are not right next to the latrines. My children even have space to play.” Due to ongoing fears of insecurity, Rosa says she intends to stay in the PoC site until the crisis ends.

“The extension is also improving conditions for those who remain in the old areas of the site,” explains Kevin Merkelz, IOM Camp Management Officer for the Wau site. “We were able to open up wide avenues to improve safety and make space for dozens of badly needed showers and latrines. This also allowed us to empty six classrooms that had been occupied since the start of the crisis so that they could be used once again for educating the children displaced by the conflict.”

The PoC site was an empty plot of land before fighting broke out in Wau, a relatively calm area before a rapid escalation of insecurity in late June 2016. The site swelled quickly as displaced families rushed to safety.

Today, over 45,900 people are sheltered in the PoC site and other displacement centres, like churches, across Wau town. Thousands more have been affected by the crisis in areas south of Wau, but relief agencies have faced extreme difficulty accessing these populations since early July.

Resources have been further stretched as IOM and other aid agencies respond to an influx of more than 5,000 newly displaced people, who have arrived at collective centres in Wau town since early February due to insecurity in Jur River County. IOM teams are distributing relief items and coordinating to provide access to clean water and other services.

Over 7.5 million people in South Sudan today are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to a devastating crisis that has displaced over 3 million people since 2013. The scale of humanitarian needs is unprecedented, with UN agencies announcing on 20 February that an estimated 100,000 people are facing famine conditions due to war and a failing economy. As IOM continues to provide aid to the most vulnerable, it remains extremely concerned by the ongoing violence in the country and deepening impact on civilians caught in the crisis.

For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 922 405 716, Email: amclaughlin@iom.int.

WRD Photo 1

South Sudan marks sixth anniversary of UNESCO World Radio Day

Photo: Peter Louis

South Sudan radio stations and media stake holders, joined the rest of the world to mark the World Radio Day (WRD) on 13th February 2017. The main event took place at Midan Rainbow football grounds in Juba with a live broadcasting decentralised to different stations through Eye Radio and South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC).  The highlight of the event was audience engagement policies – to ensure that all voices are heard in line with this year’s theme “Radio is you”.

A newly established national network, Community Media Network in South Sudan (COMNet-SS) that spearheaded the organisation of the celebrations was also launched during the event. COMNETSS mission is to strengthen community media in South Sudan by sharing best practices and allows collaboration across the network. The network with the current membership of 12 community radio stations strives to support community radios to come up with a model of good governance, accountability and greater community participation in the community broadcasting sector.

Undersecretary at the Ministry of Information, Communication Technologies and Postal Services, Honourable Justine Aler De Mayen who was the keynote speaker said in South Sudan “Radio is Justice, Radio is Freedom and Radio is Equality.”

Hon De Mayen thanked all radio stations in South Sudan for their commitment and for the role they played during the referendum and dissemination of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  “Radio played a very important role in saving lives of many South Sudanese during the past conflicts, it continues to contribute to the development of the country through peace building and reconciliation messages as well as through broadcasting health and education programmes, ” said Hon.  De Mayen.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, said radio stations should strive to have the conditions that create great programming. “In addition to entertainment and information – radio stations in South Sudan carry messages of hope and save lives. Radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster dialogue for a change, as well as to further enhance creative ways to promote freedom of expression, strengthening of social fabric and support to counter hate speech,” said Mr.  Alam.

He highlighted that the radio is a force for human rights and dignity and a powerful enabler of solutions to challenges faced by South Sudan society such as conflict, illiteracy and health related issues. He further said media, especially radio which is the most accessible and affordable medium of information in South Sudan should play an important role in the upcoming national dialogue by ensuring that all voices are heard.

Through funding from the Swedish Development Cooperation, European Union and UNDP, UNESCO will continue to provide different platforms such as listeners clubs and forums that are aimed at uniting communities around common issues with the power to hear themselves on airwaves and to have others listen to them.

The Chairperson of Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Mr. Alfred Taban called on radio stations to always tell the truth, balance their stories and be accurate with the information. Mr Taban stressed that “Radio stations have a big role to play to allow real democracy to take root in South Sudan, it can only be done through dialogues and collecting views of the citizens.”

Mr. Taban also urged on the government to allow journalists to balance their stories, to stop arbitrary arrests of journalists and to allow voices of all citizens to be heard.

During the celebration, Ms.  Naval Alfred a resident of Juba expressed gratitude about the role Radio has played in her life, “I have been listening to Radio since 1969, and benefited so much from what I heard from radio, I have learnt many health issues, I also get to know the issues happening in my community and country,” stated Ms.  Naval.

Radio stations in all the states of South Sudan also celebrated the day in various ways including outside broadcasting and hosting different radio stakeholders to participate in their programs.

Please see below links for reflections of WRD 2017 celebrations in South Sudan.

https://unmiss.unmissions.org/experts-world-radio-day-make-better-use-radio-tool-peace-and-unity

http://www.voanews.com/a/3721767.html

http://www.usglc.org/2017/02/13/how-a-partnership-in-south-sudan-is-making-a-difference-one-radio-station-at-a-time/

 https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/%E2%80%98radio-you%E2%80%99-importance-radio-south-sudan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ldw6VR3zz8

http://www.wfuv.org/content/world-radio-day-reflections-south-sudan

http://www.catholicradionetwork.org/?q=node/23048

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

UNESCO and UNDP train journalists on conflict sensitive reporting

Last week UNESCO trained 51 radio journalists from around the country on conflict-sensitive reporting. Participants agreed that, used in a sensible manner, media has a vital role to play in deescalating conflict and building peace.

The three-day-long training, which took place at the Juba Regency Hotel, was conducted as part of the Communicating with Communities project being implemented in South Sudan by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

At the event, Mr. Henric Rasbrant, a representative of the Embassy of Sweden, the country which funds the Communicating with Communities project, emphasized the strong link between press freedom and democracy.

“Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are the cornerstones of democracy”, Mr. Rasbrant remarked.

Ms. Mwatile Ndinoshiho, a UNESCO communication specialist, echoed that belief. She pledged her organization’s support and commitment to improving the capacity and knowledge of South Sudanese media practitioners, to advocate for the safety of journalists and to provide platforms for all voices to be heard.

“Freedom of expression, including press freedom, is very critical in peacebuilding and reconciliation”, she said.

The journalists trained belong to the Radio for Peace Network (RaPNET). Josephine Achiro, an official of the radio correspondents’ network, urged participants to always keep their communities in mind.

“The community should be part of the radio content you produce and radio should address the needs of your communities”, Ms. Achiro noted.

The conflict-sensitive reporting training included guidelines for reporting on conflicts and peacebuilding, the importance of gender sensitivity and the security aspects of being a journalist in unsafe areas.

Those in attendance very much approved of the training.

“I am a fresh graduate, but now I know more about how to report on conflicts. For example, I know that in a conflict a reporter should not only focus on the parties involved but also on solutions  being proposed to address the differences”, said Viola Elias, who works as a reporter for Eye Radio in Juba.

Moses Okwera Daniel, reporting for Voice of Freedom in Magwi, Imatong State, also learned a thing or two.

“It was my first time to attend a training like this one.  Now I know how to plan and conduct interviews. I have also learnt that journalists working in a conflict situation should always take safety precautions in the course of their work.”