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AMISOM wraps up consultative media conference on Somalia

AMISOM wraps up consultative media conference on Somalia

The African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) wrapped up its Consultative Media Conference at the Nyali International Beach Hotel, Mombasa, Kenya on the 9 April-10 April. The conference covered a range of topics on how the media and AMISOM should find a common ground in working together in order to achieve a stable and proactive state of Somalia.  (Photo: Ambassador Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia)

As we may all be aware, the Somalia crisis has been ongoing for as long as 20 years and yet the struggle continues.

The main theme of the conference was: How can the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) and the Media work together in implementing the peace process for Somalia?

A cross section of attendees at the conference

During the conference, media practitioners from all points across Africa, North, West, East, and South, in collaboration with AMISOM, discussed the common ground on how to work together collectively.

Some of the issues/topics of discussion were:

  • How better to sensitize Troop Contributing Countries (TCC).
  • The roles TCC’s, AMISOM, and TFG play for the better information and effective coordination.
  • The media and partners’ expectations in the context of Somali Public Information.
  • Access to reliable information in the Somali context.

AMISOM has been supporting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the peacekeeping efforts in Somalia. Few countries have been contributing troops for the mission, which had led to TFG gaining some ground in Mogadishu. However, the good work of AMISOM has not been properly reported in Africa. At this conference, all AMISOM components briefed the media about key activities (successes, challenges, and ways forward). The meeting held group sessions on how the media can better engage to explain the mission to the African people.

Since the removal of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, the situation in Somalia has deteriorated. Over the last two decades, the crisis has evolved from a civil war characterized by clanism and warlordism, to a crisis that today involves transnational crimes, human trafficking, piracy, extremism and international terrorism actively supported by al-Qaeda through Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

This has created a humanitarian catastrophe of immense proportion resulting in a huge number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees in neighbouring countries. The crisis in Somalia continues to threaten not only the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa, but it is now assuming a more global dimension.

L-r, Adeyemi Paul of Sierra Express Media, Ambassador Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, and Mohamed Asmieu Bah of Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service

The media environment in Somalia is not conducive to peace. During the past two years, the media have been operating under fear, corruption and a distorted competitiveness. Many journalists have been killed for not being on the side of Al-Shabaab, and many more have fled the country for fear of being murdered. As such, there is a huge vacuum being filled by unskilled journalists who have no understanding of how to shape a report, how to verify sources and corroborate stories. Under constant intimidation, they play to the tune of Al-Shabaab and produce reports that are read and believed by local and international communities without understanding the context. This in turn, tends to overshadow AMISOM’s communication efforts and humanitarian activities.

Aims and objectives

The Conference sought to provide an interactive forum between AMISOM and media practitioners from Somalia, Troop Contributing Countries (Uganda and Burundi), Potential Troop Contributing Countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, Guinea, Sierra Leone), and Kenya as a diplomatic hub for East Africa and the Horn of Africa region.

Expected Output

a) The mandate, activities and achievements of AMISOM to be well understood by media practitioners from Somalia, TCCs and potential TCCs.

b) Good working relationship between AMISOM and media practitioners from Somalia, TCCs, and potential TCCs consolidated.

c) Key recommendations that will inform more appropriate strategies in the implementation of AMISOM communication plans.

d) Adequate measures to enhance information flow, sharing, and dissemination, in order to make AMISOM more credible.

Further details to follow …

Adeyemi Paul, on assignment in Mombasa, Kenya

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  • Still you can use the well-qualified somali journalists abroad for consultation and advise on issue of media reporting from Somalia. It’s true that the new breed of journalists in Somalia are the product from the anarchy.

    12th April 2011

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