UNHCR launches Yetu Community Radio in Dzaleka refugee camp

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Yetu Community Radio hit the airwaves at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in the central region district of Dowa on 7th August, 2018 becoming the first Community Radio to be set up in a refugee camp in the Southern Africa region.

UNHCR Malawi Representative, Monique Ekoko, said the radio station will enforce information sharing and enhance development activities at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, which has a population of 35, 000 as well as the host community surrounding the camp.

The UNHCR Representative added that Yetu Community Radio will also provide jobs to community journalists and mobilizers who will take the lead in running daily activities and empowering young refugees.

“Definitely, the radio will help UNHCR share information among the refugees and the host community because a camp without communication is like a jungle. It will also build rapport with the refugee community through targeted news coverage, in-depth analysis and radio documentaries, phone in programmes, public interest and opinion stories as well as fostering communication and collaboration within the community itself,” Ekoko explained.

She added: “The health center may underwrite public affairs programming and bring awareness to the community of the services they can provide. All partners working in the camp can make announcements of various services they are offering at the community radio.”

The UNHCR Country Representative then appealed to Yetu members of staff who are refugees to adhere to and use broadcasting ethics to keep the radio alive, saying it would be unfortunate for MACRA officials to revoke the hard earned license.

Ekoko’s sentiments were also echoed by an official from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Samuel Malowa who made a special appeal to Yetu staff members to exercise professionalism describing radio as “a sensitive medium”.

Malowa said as government, the ministry assures press freedom for the radio to operate in the best interest of Dzaleka refugee camp and Dowa at large.

In his remarks, Group Village Headman Chimtengo from the host community that is also being covered by the radio hailed the initiative, saying the radio will help build coexistence between the refugee and host communities.

He added that Yetu radio will play a pivotal role in publicizing developmental projects being implemented in the area.

Yetu community radio station has been established after realizing the need for refugees to access accurate information and raising awareness about world events and important commemorations.

Yetu, which means “Ours” is a name derived from Swahili language, common among nationalities at the camp. The launch of Yetu Community Radio has since excited the 35, 000 plus refugees and asylum seekers living in the camp as it has enabled them including the host communities surrounding the camp to advertise their various businesses.

The community radio which is broadcasting at a 100 kilometer radius is also allowing refugees and surrounding communities to learn more about the services offered in the camp and other pertinent issues of interest to them.

As part of efforts to promote peaceful co-existence between refugees and the host communities, UNHCR in early 2016 applied to the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) for a Radio Broadcasting Licence. The licence was subsequently issued in November 2016 and this allowed UNHCR to start the setting up of studio rooms for what was to become Yetu Community Radio.

A Radio Frequency was awarded in April 2018 after successfully set up and installation of the radio rooms with the subsequent launch on 7th August 2018.