The Central African Republic: Media in a complex emergency

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Central Africans 'living in complete darkness' according to latest IMS study

Media in the Central African Republic is faced with severe challenges in covering the developments of the country’s unfolding unrest. Security issues make it impossible for journalists to move around, and some have been targeted as a result of their reporting, says the latest study “The Central African Republic: Media in a complex emergency” from CDAC Network Member IMS.

The unfolding crisis has resulted in a complete lack of access to information for parts of the Central African population.

“It’s not just a humanitarian crisis but also an information crisis. Central Africans are living in complete darkness as they have no access to information,” says Pascal Chirha, National Coordinator at the NGO Institut Panos Paris in the CAR.

The current crisis has made it virtually impossible for journalists to do their job as they are unable to move around due to security concerns. Several sources consulted for the briefing paper have said that journalists face the same security issues as the population at large, but some journalists have been targeted in retaliation for reporting. This has resulted in significant self-censorship among the country’s working journalists.

The Central African Republic has been in turmoil since rebels seized power in March 2013. The UN has warned that the country is heading toward a humanitarian disaster, with about 20% of the 4.6 million population having fled their homes.

Clear need for humanitarian information and communication

The briefing paper finds that there is a clear need for both humanitarian information and communication and media support interventions in the CAR:

“The significance of the regional aspects and possible ramifications of the current crisis in the CAR cannot be underestimated. This is significant not only for humanitarian information and communication and media support efforts but is perhaps even more crucial for long-term peace-building efforts in which both media and humanitarian information and communication have the potential to play significant roles.”

Read the full briefing paper The Central African Republic: Media in a complex emergency (PDF)