Somali journalists benefit training on safety in Mogadishu

By Ali Muhiyaddiin

MOGADISHU (Caasimada Online) — Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) held a training workshop on “Safety of Journalists in Conflict Zones” in cooperation with National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) from September 16th to 19th in Mogadishu.

The training targets journalists from mainstream, community and vernacular media outlets.

The workshop focused on educating journalists on best ways to safeguard journalism in the country, raising their awareness on the importance of following safety measures during their work in conflict zones, as well as providing them with necessary skills to help them deal with risks they may face during their work in Somalia, which remains one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Director General of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Abdirahman Yusuf Adaala urged participating journalists to make use of the opportunity the training presents to enhance their work.  Mr Abdirahman Yusuf Adaala thanked DCMF and NUSOJ for their efforts to provide Somali journalists with much needed professional training.

The training targets journalists from mainstream, community and vernacular media outlets.

“Attacks and other violations against journalists and media workers have indeed gradually decreased in the past several years, but that is not enough. We want to see an end to all violations against journalists. The Federal Government of Somalia is committed to safeguard and guarantee the freedom of media and expression, that is why we are now working with UNESCO on the formation of an Independent National Safety Mechanism Committee ” Abdirahman Yusuf Adaala said.

For his part, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, Secretary General of NUSOJ said the training is one of many exceptional training workshops to come. And it serves as a great support and practical solidarity with Somali journalists who are facing many threats.

“The workshop has provided practical mechanisms to help protect the lives of journalists, and provide them with required safety training packages that suits their own environment and enable them to protect themselves while doing their job” said  Moalimuu during his speech at the opening ceremony of the four-days training workshop.

“Our collaboration with DCMF has enabled journalists from Mogadishu to gain the knowledge and skills to deal with conflict situations, emergencies, and traumatic events. Participants were also taught essential first aid and how to assess potential dangers, including environmental hazards. In addition, participants gained a better understanding of safety equipment, personal security, digital security and how to survive kidnaping.  And I would also like to thank Somali Red Crescent Society who sent us experienced paramedic volunteer during training,” Moalimuu added.

This workshop is part of DCMF’s annual training program, and its efforts to promote the safety and protection of journalists in conflict zones and to provide media workers with needed capacity building training, especially in areas with volatile security situation like Somalia where journalists are targeted on regular basis and their rights are violated.

The main objective of the training is to build a culture of professional safety for Somali journalists, empower them with protection mechanisms and enhance their knowledge on issues such as accountability, rule of law and combating impunity.

Participants expressed their gratitude to have gained such safety training in the early stage of their career as they have witnessed many of their colleagues killed in the line of duty without such safety knowledge.

Some of the training participants attending the training course were actual victims of suicide and small arms attacks in recent years and they were inflicted by various numbers of injuries. Among them was Habiba Jimale Biibto, the editor of Mogadishu Times, a daily newspaper in Mogadishu, who survived and narrowly escaped a suicide blast at Hooyooyinka building in Mogadishu in 2012.

“This training reflects the most acute needs of local journalists in Somalia who are the first respondents to the bombings and their lives endangered.”  She said

The journalists explained that they are now better prepared to face the ongoing risks that are associated with daily newsgathering in an extreme conflict environment such as Somalia.

The workshop has embedded a positive train of thoughts to pass on this safety information to their colleagues and start creating a safety culture within their own media organizations.