The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) has launched a project aimed at supporting four TV channels which will create content about refugees from Ukraine and with their participation. The “Support for Ukrainian Refugees through the Media” project funded by the Government of Japan is a UNESCO initiative developed within the framework of the Regional Refugee Response Plan for Ukraine coordinated by UNHCR. The project was launched on Monday, September 4, in Chisinau, with the participation of many officials and partner institution representatives.
The initiative aims to increase refugees’ access to correct and reliable information on relevant issues, such as humanitarian assistance provided by the authorities and partners or employment.
Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, notes that this project is based on an innovative approach to the problems faced by Ukrainian refugees in the neighboring countries. “The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, which is one of the worst crises since World War II, requires a prompt response from the United Nations and its partner organizations supporting refugees in Ukraine, including via this project. Access to information and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights for every one of us. For millions of refugees, these rights are crucial in the current circumstances. A research conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council demonstrates that refugees are faced with various challenges related to access to information. This state of things is also amplified due to communication barriers. For these reasons, this initiative is aimed at assisting media partners in creating relevant content for Ukrainian refugees settled in Slovakia, Romania, and the Republic of Moldova,” Tawfik Jelassi said.
His Excellency Yoichiro Yamada, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Moldova, expresses his respect for the generous support the Republic of Moldova was providing for the refugees immediately after the war in Ukraine broke out. “The Republic of Moldova, a small country with a big heart, has given the whole world an example of treating those who suffer. If you are wondering why Japan has decided to support ethical communication in wartime, we would like to say that we believe in the power and role of journalism in supporting honesty, sincerity, and humanity in society. Another reason is related to our own history. In Japan, freedom of expression was restricted after World War II, and criticism of the regime was severely sanctioned. I feel happy I did not have to live in those times. Simple people do not want any wars. Some political leaders craving for glory and power see truth and pluralism of opinions as enemies. Yet freedom of expression is a pillar for functioning of democracy. These are just a few reasons why Japan has decided to support this initiative. We care quite a lot about freedom of expression,” Yoichiro Yamada emphasized.
Nadine Gogu, IJC Executive Director, remarks that “the project involves supporting the press in the Republic of Moldova in the process of covering topics about refugees, therefore contributing to increasing their resilience and creating an environment of understanding and solidarity in society.” “We believe that our colleagues in the media, using the power of words, images, and communication, will succeed in bringing the stories and needs of refugees from Ukraine to the fore and helping increase empathy for refugees. We hope the media will succeed in creating favorable conditions for the temporary peaceful coexistence of refugees in the Republic of Moldova by providing correct information to the public, by promoting human rights and appropriate policies, as well as by dispelling myths,” Nadine Gogu declared.
Georgiana Cremene, program coordinator at the Norwegian Refugee Council in Bucharest, conducted a research on media-related habits and information demands among refugees from Ukraine in Romania, Slovakia, and the Republic of Moldova, and its results were presented at the event. According to the research, healthcare, employment opportunities, social, legal, and child protection, refugee integration, and relations with host communities are the key spheres which require better media coverage.
For the next five months, with the IJC’s support, four newsrooms (TV8, Jurnal TV, Elita TV, and Studio-L) will be producing materials focused on refugees from Ukraine, which includes involving fellow journalists from the neighboring state. Journalist Irina Stryapko joined the TV8 team shortly after the war started. “For the first three months after the breakout of the war, I was making live broadcasts from Odessa, until the TV channel I worked for closed down. I became unemployed, but that wasn’t the biggest tragedy. The worst disaster is that people still lose their lives in Ukraine. My colleagues – show hosts, camera operators, men and women – took weapons instead of microphones in their hands and went to the frontline. I decided to keep fighting by informing citizens. Thanks to the Republic of Moldova which has been helping us a lot, some of us have managed to plan our nearest future here. I guess we could make a show for discussing Ukrainian citizens’ integration in Moldova or the issues they face. Therefore, we have launched the show titled “Bună seara, suntem din Ucraina!” (“Good Evening, We Are from Ukraine!”). We will keep working from here to provide reliable information,” she mentioned.
The official launch of the project is followed by a two-day training program during which TV8, Jurnal TV, Elita TV, and Studio-L journalists, as well as those from Moldova 1 public TV channel, will learn the principles of ethical coverage of problems faced by refugees from the local and international experts, study various strategies for presenting conflict-related issues, and consider why ethical communication is so important for making materials with and about people who left Ukraine. In addition, for two days, the experts will be guiding the participants in covering topics about refugees in an impartial, balanced, and fact-based manner, involving them in various practical exercises.
The “Support for Ukrainian Refugees through the Media” project implemented by the IJC and funded by the Government of Japan is a UNESCO initiative developed within the framework of the Regional Refugee Response Plan for Ukraine coordinated by UNHCR.