South Sudan Radio Stations are a key player in peacebuilding- Says UNESCO

18 February 2016

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South Sudan WRD organising committee with some of the invited guests
© UNESCO

Radio Stations from across South Sudan have demonstrated the immense power of radio in uniting the citizens of South Sudan says UNESCO. In a show of unity and purpose from 1st to 13th February 2016, the public, private and community radio stations shared content in six local languages focusing on the role of radio in peace and conflict.

Sharing the same platform and joint programmes, the radio stations also held a 6 hour live and joint broadcast at Remba playground in Juba, on Saturday, 13 February 2016, to mark the World Radio Day under the theme “Radio in disaster and emergency situations”. The day’s programs promoted diversity as strength, through local languages, advocating for the right use of Radio in South Sudan in ending the conflict, promoting peace building initiatives and reconciliation. This event was well attended by many media stakeholders including the newly appointed Media Authority and Broadcasting Corporation officials, who reiterated their commitment to ensuring safety of journalists and media freedom in South Sudan.


Eye Media CEO Stephen Omiri, live interview during the Outside Broadcast to mark WRD
© UNESCO

Speaking during the outside broadcast event, UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, Mr. Salah Khaled paid tribute to the radio stations for uniting the people of South Sudan, through peace messaging. He further congratulated the radio stations for sharing the few resources and donating the outside broadcasting equipment for the event, which demonstrated their resolve for unity of purpose to mark the World Radio Day.

 “I stand here today, to let you know how proud we are, for the role the South Sudan radio stations have been playing over the years and especially in providing a platform for reconciliation and peace building during the turbulent times” said Mr Khaled. “We are fully cognisant of the challenges you have faced in playing this important role, challenges related to your safety, media freedom, balanced reporting, high levels of self -censorship, yet you have chosen to put your lives on the front line to save humanity” Mr. Khaled stressed.

This was echoed by Mr. Stephen Omiri, the CEO of Eyemedia. “If radio stations never played a positive role during the conflict in South Sudan, this would have created an information gap that would lead to more rumours than factual and fuel the conflict further” said Mr. Omiri.

Representing the guest of honour the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth was the Undersecretary, Hon. Justin Aler De Mayen who also lauded the radio stations for joining efforts to demonstrate the power of unity in achieving a common purpose. “On the occasion to mark the World Radio Day, we are aware that for a country to develop, media freedom as enshrined in our constitution is key and want to assure you the government’s support to enable you do your job as expected”.

The Undersecretary urged the media not to give up amidst all the challenges and to bring to the attention of the newly created Media Authority all media concerns. Acknowledging the challenges the government is facing financially and the need to establish the 3 independent media institutions, the undersecretary also requested media donors and development partners to support the operationalization of the Media Authority, the Broadcasting Corporation and the Communication commission. 

Speaking at the event, the chairman of AMDISS and Juba Monitor chief editor, Mr. Alfred Taban Logune called on South Sudanese authorities to immediately release journalists who have been arrested while doing their job. “No journalist should be jailed for doing his or her job, which includes the right to publish or broadcast critical observations about public figures and institutions," he remarked. “We cannot celebrate while our colleagues and fellow countrymen are in prison.  South Sudanese authorities should release them immediately or disclose any charges against the detained journalists,” Mr. Taban emphasised.

Audio messages on the occasion of World Radio Day from Hon Rebecca Joshua the Minister of Telecom and Postal Services in the Republic of South Sudan, UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova and the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Mr. Tadateru Konoé were also played to those in attendance and broadcasted to the listeners of different radio stations that connected to the live and joint outside broadcast event.

World Radio Day (WRD) was proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference at its 36th session in 2011 and adopted by the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. The date set aside was 13 February, which is the anniversary of the creation of United Nations Radio in 1946. World Radio Day is the result of an extensive consultation process involving all the stakeholders − radio broadcasting associations; public, commercial, community and international radios; institutions, United Nations programme funds; NGOs; universities; bilateral development foundations and agencies, as well as UNESCO national commissions and permanent delegations following a proposal put forward by the Spanish Radio Academy.

 

For further details on WRD in South Sudan, Please contact

Ms. Lydia Gachungi

Communication and Onformation Specialist, UNESCO Juba Office

ETel+ 211922066002/+254722803724

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