Journalists’ leaders from Iraq today issued an urgent appeal to the United Nations to take urgent action over the “media nightmare” in the war-torn country that has seen 163 journalists and media staff killed since 2003.
Meeting in Amman, leaders of the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate and the Kurdistan Journalists’ Syndicate, called on the United Nations Security Council which is this week considering a first-ever resolution on protection of media in conflict zones, to set aside political differences and to focus on the humanitarian crisis that has overtaken the country’s media.
“More than ten per cent of Iraq’s active journalists’ community has been killed,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists which convened the meeting with the Federation of Arab Journalists. “It is a media nightmare that requires urgent international attention.”
Moaid El Lami, General Secretary of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, added: “Our colleagues are being targeted by killers on all sides. It is an intolerable ordeal that must be recognised by all governments.”
Even in the north of the country, where relative calm has helped journalists to organise themselves, the crisis has created a sense of professional unity that has overcome national divisions. “We are all working together to end this crisis,” said Farhad Awni, President of the Kurdistan Journalists’ Syndicate. “There can be no press freedom until all journalists in Iraq can work in safe and secure conditions.”
The meeting in Amman agreed a programme of action to assist journalists in Iraq in the coming year, including work on a new media law and trade union development issues, but the priority remains safety.
“We need more safety training, better equipment to protect media staff at work, and more humanitarian aid, but most of all we need political will to bring an end to the targeting and killings of media people,” said Aidan White.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide