Journalists across the world continue to be targeted on a daily basis for the work they carry out.
Displaced Kenyan people, residents of a camp for the internally displaced named “Kihoto”
Each year, on June 20, people across the globe mark World Refugee Day, highlighting the problems that cause people to flee their countries while raising awareness and support for those who have been forced to leave their homes behind as well as celebrating the courage and resilience of refugees around the world.
Against this backdrop, Doha Centre for Media Freedom continues to shed light on the cases of journalists facing such terrible persecution that they felt compelled to abandon their homes and seek safe haven elsewhere.
Political instability, tribal conflicts, individual vendettas and any number of additional issues can lead to journalists opting to relocate rather than remain at home. Journalists’ own professionalism, and the work they have carried out in uncovering corruption and contributing towards the development of investigative journalism has also exacerbated the situation in many countries. For partaking in quality journalism and defending media freedom, journalists are forced to choose a new country in which to live.
In truth, this decision often boils down to a choice between life and death, which is no choice at all.
Even after deciding to seek new pastures, journalists face a myriad of difficulties in reaching their adopted homes and often lack the basic paperwork required to travel safely and legally.
Should they reach their intended destination, these media workers are then faced with assimilating into a new country without any form of guidance or assistance. Often penniless, homeless and completely isolated, these individuals realise that they have left one hardship only to find themselves firmly embroiled in another. While many are totally alone, others manage to travel with family members. This may be preferable to resettling by themselves, but it also increases their burden and the need to secure food and shelter.
There is a pressing need to address the issue of exiled journalists. While it is essential that media workers who find themselves in such dire circumstances are provided with assistance which can help them get back on their feet, it is equally important to work on sustainable programmes which will assist them in the long term.
Similarly, there is a critical need to address the issues which contribute towards journalists being forced into exile. Perhaps the most dangerous threat to journalism and media freedom across the globe is impunity. Journalists around the world continue to be targeted because of the work they carry out; many are attacked, imprisoned, threatened and even killed simply for working for the cause of truth and defending the basic human right to information.
Until the culture of impunity infesting so many nations around the world is eradicated, journalists will continue to find themselves in situations where they feel the need to live in exile.
This is particularly true in East Africa, which currently homes more exiled journalists than any other region in the world.
Doha Centre for Media Freedom recently visited Kenya and Uganda to meet with East African journalists and investigate the issues they face having relocated from their home countries. The mission’s findings will be published in a research report entitled No home from home: the plight of East African exiled journalists in the coming week, which will include a number of recommendations for the best ways to assist journalists in exile in the future.
This year, on World Refugee Day, DCMF is expressing support to those who lack the basic safety and security of a home, and highlighting the need for press freedom, human rights and other rights organisations to unite to make a significant change to the lives of exiled journalists around the world.
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