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June 23, 2023, (MOMBASA, Kenya): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Mediation Support Unit (MSU) organized an intense training on Conflict Sensitive reporting for media practitioners across the IGAD region.

The main objective of this training was to enhance the capacity of journalists and media personnel in conflict-sensitive reporting by equipping them with the right tools and skills for adopting a conflict sensitive-approach to gathering and presenting information in conflict contexts.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Aleu Garang, IGADs Head of Mission to the Republic of South Sudan and the Director of MSU, welcomed the participants who were drawn from different media agencies, freelancers, and media regulators from the IGAD Member States to the 2nd regional workshop on Conflict Sensitive Reporting. “Our region has been embroiled in conflict and almost sits in a very peculiar situation where anything can ignite the conflict in the politics of our region, whether separate member states or even collectively.”

He emphasized that “We hope the media will play a role to safeguard the sensitivities that exist among our communities and member states, and that’s because we embarked on two passages; the first is nation-building; we are facing the same challenge in terms of nation-building. Most of our communities still look at themselves as clans, tribes, and different ethnicities. We are supposed to start looking at ourselves now, in the 21st century, at least as a nation, and then collectively, we may move towards speaking of the IGAD nation or IGAD people.” He talks about the shared history, culture, and shared interests in the IGAD region and calls upon participants to work together to embrace our integration within the region and possibly further.

The three days focused on the role of media in conflict prevention. There was a  consensus on the need for careful selection of words to use in such situation reporting and the language. One of the participants said, “we should avoid being emotional and identify the groups by the names they identify themselves with; we agreed to avoid the use of words like terrorists, rebels. We all identified with the need for journalists to be neutral. In a conflict setting, most people say it is difficult to be neutral, but the calling of journalists is to be impartial and objective in reporting.”

Participants shared examples from the region, such as the Ethiopian Conflict in the Tigray region, Northern part of Ethiopia, the current Sudan Conflict 2023

At the end of the training, participants decided that as Journalists, they have to be aware of the subject role that they play  “We provide information, and in absence, there will be rumors, and that will throw the conflict further.  We are mandated to come up with credible information that will not leave any information vacuum to allow the spread of disinformation and misinformation,” one participant said. The other critical point made was the basic fundamentals, 5Ws +H, and now they’ve added a so what. “We should never forget those things in our reporting.” Agreeing that no story is worth our life, a journalist must have to take care of themselves as well.

This workshop was organized by Mediation Support Unit (MSU) with financial support from European Union through the IPPSHAR program under the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).

IGAD press end



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