The Syrian Hour: UNESCO supports radio programme for Syrian refugees in North Jordan

The first live episode of the bi-weekly radio programme, Al-Sa'a Al-Suriyya - The Syrian hour, was broadcasted on Yarmouk FM 105.7, on Wednesday 14 November 2012. The programme is part of a project that aims at providing an information and communication platform for Syrian refugees in the northern part of Jordan, including Irbid and surrounding areas, for the dissemination of information on relief services available to them, their rights and duties, in addition to various types of counseling.

Whereas the majority of newly arriving Syrian refugees are being transferred to the Za’atari camp, many Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan prior to the opening of the camp are still living in urban settings in northern part of Jordan. Unfortunately, as shown by a number of assessments, a high number of them still lack awareness about their protection rights and support services available to their attention such as food-assistance, education, health, or psychosocial support. Moreover, anxiety and traumas are common among the refugees who are often afraid to approach authorities and providers of relief services and assistance.

The first episode of the programme covered different areas including Cash Assistance, Non Food Items, and Winterization, with the participation of the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO), Al Kitab wal Suneh (NGO), as well as the Islamic Charity Society Center (ICSC).

The programme, scheduled for broadcasting every Monday and Wednesday for the period of two months, is part of UNESCO’s project promoting freedom of expression in the Arab region funded by Sweden. UNESCO’s local project partner is Un Ponte Per.

Leading to the launch of the programme, a one-month training of four Syrian youth (two male and two female) on basic citizen journalism skills and radio techniques was held. The training prepared the youth to participate in the programme whether by taking part in its presentation on the air, or through conducting interviews in the field.

“I was a Media student in Syria, department of radio and television, but had to leave the country because of the situation there. I was hoping that I could do something to help other Syrian refugees, therefore when I was asked to take part in this project I was very pleased for this opportunity,” said Majd Al Sammouri, one of the Syrian youth trained under this project. “This has also allowed me to follow up on the education I had to stop, and get involved in the same field. Therefore, I thank those responsible for this project for the opportunity they have offered us,” he added.

A pool of experts from the UN and beyond was also identified to support the presenters of the radio show and provide their expertise to callers. These included psychologists, psychosocial specialists, legal experts and protection staff.

While radio Yarmouk waves are limited to the Northern region of Jordan, the programme can also be heard online on http://yarmoukfm.yu.edu.jo/ . Listeners are encouraged to participate through phone calls, sms or via the programme’s facebook page ساعة سورية - Sa'a Suriya at https://www.facebook.com/Saa.Suriya.

Currently plans are underway to expand the project to other areas in Jordan and extend it for a minimum of six more months, including the distribution of portable and rechargeable radios to the most vulnerable households.