Being an independent journalist in Syria
Being an independent journalist in Syria is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Among the closest to the front lines, journalists risk their lives constantly to document events, while being targeted by the regime and extremist armed groups for giving a voice to civilians and defending freedom of expression (read the article from Le Courrier). The Idleb region is one of the last areas where the opposition maintains a presence on Syrian territory. As the regime reconquests opposition-controlled areas, along with civilians, journalists and media activists are among the populations being moved to this part of the country. Under the control of the extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham since January 2019, and bombarded since April by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally, the Idleb area has become hell for the 3 million civilians who live there. While the international community seems unable to stop this carnage, supporting the journalists who risk their lives every day to document the bombardments and the lives of civilians is essential. In partnership with Arte, we are highlighting the work of 3 Syrian citizen journalists, testifying of the living conditions in Idleb region, through 3 reports.
Assisting journalists in danger
Our project to assist journalists in danger aims to support Syrian journalists who have incurred serious injuries as a result of their work. The project delivers the necessary medical treatment, and also financial support during the recovery period, as most have to stop working but still are responsible for their families. Journalists benefiting from the project have professional training opportunities, to support their professional reintegration, in journalism or another field of work.
Our Assistance in numbers
Since the beginning of the project, at the end of 2018, we were in contact with more than 80 Syrian independent journalists and media activists. Until now, 30 journalists have benefited from our help, through surgeries, medicines, physiotherapy sessions, or prosthesis. Among them, 60% had to stop their professional activity because of their injuries, and so they live both a precarious health situation and financial instability. Two-thirds of our recipients are in the north-east of Syria, in Idleb and Aleppo areas, while the others have found refuge in Turkey. In order to strengthen our action, we are coordinating with other international partners organisations, such as SCM (Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression) and UOSSM (Union des Organisations de Secours et Soins Médicaux).
Beyond medical help
The help given to journalists doesn’t end with the healing of injuries. We support them in their professional reintegration, helping them identify and take part in training opportunities and giving them access to our network of media professionals and organizations. Thus, 20 journalists have benefited for 7 weeks – from October 13th until November 30th – from an intensive training to video content design and editing.
As part of the project, we are conducting a study on the work conditions of local freelance journalists and their employers’ responsibility in case of injuries. If our help is currently much needed, it is because of a structural problem. Media outlets employ local freelance journalists at low cost, but are not supporting them in cases of serious injuries. In the long term, we aim to contribute to the development of a safer working environment for independent journalists and to encourage the numerous aspiring journalists.
This project wouldn’t exist without the financial support we received during the crowdfunding “Journalists in danger”, in January. Citizens from all over the world participated in the campaign, demonstrating solidarity for Syrian independent journalists and their message of resistance.
Illustrations : Manon Photopoulos