Djibouti: 19-09-2013 - Leading media houses’ professionals hailing from the IGAD region and Governmental Information Institutions officials from Member States gathered in Addis Ababa from September 16 to 18 for their first consultative meeting facilitated by Hon. Netsanet Asfaw, Director of Peace and Security Division, IGAD.
This meeting, sponsored by UNDP Regional Office, was initiated and organized by IGAD following the newly developed regional Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development document that outlined the importance of the media to promoting peace and security in the region. It is in this respect that the major objective was to enhance the role of media for peace and stability in the IGAD region.
In her opening remarks, Hon. Netsanet Asfaw, welcomed the delegations from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda to this workshop titled Media for Peace, highlighting success stories of IGAD as well as the potentials of IGAD region and peoples that have gone unreported.
“IGAD region is strategically located and is rich with resources, history, and has much to offer to the rest of the world. This needs to be told in this age of information”, she said before adding that one of media’s roles was to be on the front-line for a culture of peace in the region.
In a brief presentation, Commander Abebe Mulune Beyene, Head of IGAD Security Sector Program (ISSP), exposed the security threats IGAD region is confronted to, giving the audience a comprehensive view and a good understanding of the security challenges.
Tigist Hailu, PR and Communications Officer of IGAD Conflict Early Warning And Response Mechanism (CEWARN), briefed the audience on the programmes, projects and activities CEWARN was undertaking to detect and mitigate cross-borders and intra-border conflicts.
It was then time for the media professionals to share brief outlines of the media situation in their respective countries. This helped situate the similarities and differences of media environment in the Member States of IGAD. The most appalling environment media professionals have to confront remained the Somali context where reporter Burhan Dini Farah, who did the presentation for the Somali delegation during the workshop, explained that he himself escaped four blasts in Mogadishu that claimed the lives of fellow journalists.
“It was a very interesting meeting where the various colleagues worked hard and showed commitment to promoting peace in the region”, said Ali Barkhat, Director of La Nation paper issued in Djibouti.
The Representative of UNDP Regional Office in Addis Ababa paid a courtesy visit to the participants towards the end of the workshop for a few encouraging words that were warmly welcomed by the audience.
During these three days of consultation, presentations, and group sessions, participants identified potential areas of cooperation between IGAD and key media outlets in the region, a Standing Committee for further consultations and consolidation of proposed areas was formed, and also participants agreed that it was necessary to set up a journalists association for the region.