ASML/Syria is proud to announce the launch of its newest project: Journalists in Danger. The project intends to provide injured Syrian journalists with medical and financial support to help them recover and work again.
We help in three ways: providing medical care (surgeries, medicine, rehabilitation, prostheses, etc); financial support to journalists and their family during their recovery period; and assisting them in their professional reintegration.
In Syria, most journalists do not benefit from any medical aid or insurance when they are injured. Many are employed by international media, but have only freelancer status, often without contract. These men and women are working in a war zone, but receive neither security training, nor protection equipment. While the nature of their work is continuously leading them to risk their life, the lack of support leaves them alone when it really matters, such as when they are injured. As if their conditions were not dangerous enough, they also face violent repression from the regime and extremists groups – a direct consequence of their involvement in documenting crimes committed against civilians. Working as journalist inside Syria has became one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 689 media workers have been killed in Syria according to the SNHR, which represents one journalist killed every five days.
Our mission, which is supporting independent media and journalists in Syria, requires us to do everything we can to protect these men and women and improve their work conditions.
At at time when the independence of journalists is continually undermined, when the role of media is under attack in many countries, when all facts are read as political, and when journalists have never been so discredited, Syria has became the center of international populist misinformation. Denial of chemical attacks, denunciation of collusion between the White Helmets and ISIS, downplaying of the regime war crimes… Unfortunately, it is a long list. In such a context, it is crucial to support local journalists who remain on the ground to cover the events and inform the public in a professional and independent way. They are our eyes and ears, but also defenders of human rights and freedom of expression, and giving a voice back to Syrian civil society.
Through this programme, we want to build a sustainable network of support and medical assistance for Syrian journalists, to guarantee a safer working environment and encourage future journalists to achieve their career goals. We also aim to alert the international audience about the very precarious situation of Syrian journalists and to publicly recognize their work and contribution, essential for the future of the country.
Omar Dimashqi, a young citizen journalist injured while doing his work: “I will recover, maybe one day I will be able to continue what I started as a young journalist inside Syria”
Omar is only 22, but is a citizen journalist since 6 years now. In October 2017, while he was documenting the events that occurred in the city of Hamorieh (Damascus governorate) with Qais al Qadi, a shell fell next to him. Evacuated by the civil defense, Omar endured 7 hours of surgery and 4 days in a coma before it came clear he was going to live. His colleague Qais did not survive. Disabled, Omar needed constant assistance for 3 months. In February 2018, the siege of Eastern Ghouta by the regime forced him to live in a shelter for 2 months, before being displaced to Idlib. Access to medical care is becoming more challenging in Idlib and its condition is getting worse. Although the media outlet he was working for gives him a small monthly stipend, he does not receive any medical assistance. Omar has had to stop his work as a journalist, due to his health conditions, but keeps hope to be one day able to continue.