By Esther Akaa
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has trained 27 journalists to develop their skills in humanitarian reporting.
The Communication Coordinator of ICRC in Nigeria, Robin Waudo, stated this at the end of a two-day training for journalists, held October Tuesday 18 – Wednesday 19, 2022 in Jos, Plateau State.
Waudo explained that the training was aimed at building the capacities of journalists on how to accurately report humanitarian issues in Nigeria, especially the North-Central geo-political zone of the country.
According to him, the workshop also provided an avenue for the ICRC to intimate media professionals on the activities of the organisation and how it has been providing assistance to victims of war and natural disasters across the world, through its policy of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence among others.
“The aim of this workshop is to have a forum to discuss with journalists about what the ICRC is doing in the country, our challenges and also to hear from the journalists about their work.
“Our relationship with the media is very important because it’s the mouthpiece that shares information about what is happening in the country.
“In Nigeria, there is a lot that the ICRC is doing to assist people, who are affected by armed conflicts in the North East of the country but also in the other parts of the country, therefore, humanitarian reporting is important because it puts the victims of violence and conflicts at the forefront,” Waudo said.
He stressed the need for journalists to be accurate in their reportage, by reporting both the causes and effects of armed conflict, in order to make the public understand better.
Waudo further stated that the organisation has been assisting people affected by armed conflict and also reuniting missing persons with their families.
“We are working not only to assist and protect the people displaced and living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps without access to food, water, medication, security but also been separated from families and the need for us to be able to reunite these separated families has been very important.
“Due to the ongoing conflict in North East Nigeria for over 10 years, there are over 25,000 people who have gone missing and have been reported to the ICRC by their families or their relatives that they are missing. We try to reunite these families or get them reconnected and we have done this in few places but this is a very huge challenge.
He, said the organisation is working in collaboration with the Nigerian Red Cross Society to search for those missing persons but was faced with the challenge of accessibility of areas affected by conflicts.
On his part, Lead Facilitator at the workshop, Dr Bala Muhammad said mainstream journalists have long helped to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian crises, as well as provided early emergency warnings and monitored the treatment of citizens during conflict situations.
Bala, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano and Emeritus Columnist, Daily Trust Saturday between 2006-2021, said all the geo-political zones of the country were currently facing challenges, noting that most existential problem to be faced by the incoming president in 2023 may be that of insecurity.
“As journalists, commentators and analysts, we must help even the politicians to understand what is happening and to situate it.
“All the news, opinion and features we write, we discuss the effects and not the cause but it is very important to always discuss the cause of a crisis, the background and details that are not always available to the masses,” Bala said.
He called on journalists to always do background checks and research to enable them tell better stories, even as he charged them to be unbiased in their reportage by upholding the humanitarian principles which are accepted globally.
The Don also urged the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Guild of Editors and the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ ) to ensure that journalists are protected at all times.
He, therefore, called on government to look into the causes of insecurity with a view to addressing it for the overall development of the country.
In separate interviews with The Voice, some of the participants, Isaac Ukpoju of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Patience Jacob, Nasarawa Broadcasting Service (NBS) and Esther Enna, Radio Nigeria, all appreciated ICRC for organising the workshop.
They said that the training will spur them to engage more in humanitarian reporting that will expose the public to both the causes and effects of conflicts and profer solution to the problems of insecurity in the country.
The Voice reports that the workshop was attended by 27 journalists selected from Benue, Bauchi, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states.