“Magnificent Response” Says IFJ as Journalists Rally to Support Stricken Colleagues in Asia

Journalists’ trade unions from around the world have responded “magnificently” to the international appeal launched by the IFJ to assist journalists and media staff caught up in the earthquake disaster in Asia.

“After only a few days, unions and associations of journalists have displayed extraordinary solidarity and generosity in their response to the plight of colleagues around the Indian Ocean,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

The IFJ says that offers of help and donations have been received from a dozen countries and that 18,000 Euro has already been sent on from the IFJ Emergency Assistance Fund to colleagues in Indonesia where up to 200 journalists and media staff have been reported lost or missing. The Serambi Indonesia, one of Aceh’s leading daily newspapers, lost around 100 staff and its shoreline printing works and offices were washed away. It has restarted publication.

The IFJ has also welcomed the information on trauma reporting produced by the Dart Centre, an affiliate of the International News Safety Institute, which gives advice to journalists and media staff that are covering the tragedy.

“Thousands of journalists and media staff covering this story are witnesses to a tragedy and to disturbing scenes of unimaginable horror,” said White. “It is important that they are aware of the personal consequences of this encounter with the consequences of death and destruction.”

The IFJ has also written a letter to United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan calling on him to ensure that the reconstruction effort in the region also leads to media reform.

IFJ officials are travelling to the region in the coming days to support local affiliates in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia who have been hardest hit by the disaster.

“Journalists’ unions are, like other groups in civil society, joining the general relief effort, but they are also thinking of the special needs of the media staff,” said White.

The IFJ says that donations can be sent to:
Asia Disaster Relief for Journalists and Media Staff
C/o IFJ Safety Fund
Fortis Banque
Agence Rond Point Schumann 10
IBAN: BE64 2100 7857 0052
Swift Code: GEBABEBB

For further information contact: Robert Shaw, IFJ Human Rights and
Information Officer: +32 2 235 22 07 or +32 496 205 447 (mobile)
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries

Safety Information:

The DART Centre: Trauma Awareness for Journalists Covering Tsunamis

The Fleet Street Clinic: Health Information for News Professionals Covering the Asian Tsunami Disaster