A new programme to improve security for Palestinian journalists and media staff whose lives are threatened in the conflict in the West Bank and Gaza is being launched next week by the International Federation of Journalists.
The IFJ is carrying out introductory safety workshops for Palestinian journalists and staff working for foreign media in five West Bank areas where news people have come under fire – Hebron, Jenin, Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Ramallah. The IFJ is also co-operating with the International News Safety Institute, the global campaign for news safety, to spearhead efforts to provide training for media staff in Gaza.
The IFJ is in consultation with INSI on the establishment of news safety work in the region and a programme of support and assistance open to all media people working in the region.
“Palestine remains one of the world’s most dangerous places for media people,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “This programme will help reduce risk by raising the awareness of journalists and camera staff about what they can do to help themselves.”
The IFJ will open a safety centre in Ramallah, in co-operation with Palestinian journalists, and is in discussions with the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the Foreign Press Association. INSI is also to appoint a safety co-ordinator for the region.
“This initiative illustrates that we must work together to raise concerns over attacks on Palestinian journalists and foreign correspondents,” said White.
The IFJ programme over the coming days has been restricted because many journalists are only able to take limited time off to attend the safety training, which the IFJ says limits the effectiveness of training. “Media staff need to be given the time they need for exposure to a full training programme,” said Aidan White. “Our centre will develop a longer-term strategy that must be supported by media owners and not hindered by the authorities.”
Over the next week an IFJ mission to the region will also discuss plans for reform within the Palestine Journalists Syndicate and will meet with both Palestinian and Israeli authorities and the Foreign Press Association over restrictions on journalists in the area. The IFJ is also planning a joint programme with National Federation of Israel Journalists and Arab journalists based in Israel later in the year.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries