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.”

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