Home Features JFC/WACC: Amplifying the Silent Cries of internally displaced people.

JFC/WACC: Amplifying the Silent Cries of internally displaced people.

by Church Times
For about five years now, Journalists for Christ International with the support of World Association for Christian Communication and Bread for the World (German Protestant Agency for Diaconia Development),  has consistently put a searchlight on internally displaced people in Nigeria.
 The body whose president is Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin has been sensitizing Media houses and non-governmental organisations on the need to project issues concerning displaced people.
 But for one year now, the organisation took the effort a mile further.
 It commissioned journalists in different media houses to report issues affecting the IDPs. The outcome of the one-year effort was put together in a compendium titled, Silent Cries.
 The publication was presented to the public at two separate events in Lagos and Abuja recently.
 The presentation however turned out to be another opportunity to amplify the silent cries of internally displaced people in Nigeria.
 Both venues of the review of the publication were graced by journalists and stakeholders in the IDP.

JFC team after one of the numerous media parley on Internally Displaced People in Lagos

Lagos event

 At the Lagos event, Mr. Francis Abayomi described Silent Cries as a key component of the outputs of the JFC project aimed at consolidating efforts in enhancing the welfare of IDPs.
 He noted that the publication highlights special media reports by a select group of media actors comprising 20 journalists and development writers.
 The publication according to him speaks to issues that touch the heart about the unknown situations of IDPs in Nigeria.
 Abayomi stated that the reportorial work is unique in demonstrating how development actors including journalists can approach and sustain sensitisation as well as advocacy through the media.
He said, the publication shows that “stories that depict the agonies and silent cries of IDPs begin with a commitment to act as well as determination to support media actors; particularly journalists at the frontlines”
Indeed, Silent Cries is a compendium of heart-touching stories about those living in IDP camps across Nigeria.
 There are stories of neglect, agony, and pain of people in the IDPs across the country.

Abuja parley

JFC did not stop in Lagos, It took the campaign to Abuja the Federal Capital City where Mr. Seun Akioye dissected the publication in a media parley.
 In his conclusion at the parley, Akioye gave a tripartite recommendation to the media, civil society groups, and the government.
 For the media, he said, “The media should continue to highlight issues and bring to the fore concerns of persons affected by hostilities, especially on the provision of welfare amenities, facilities, and safe shelter.”
The media according to him should also build capacity for journalists and media actors and other relevant stakeholders.
 “More women and children who are the most vulnerable should be given more space to air their concerns in media reportage.
 “Media organisations should endeavour to seek support by collaborating with media support groups and related stakeholders”

Report IDP with empathy

Akioye pleaded with the media to report IDPs with empathy by focussing on “positive stories on IDPs with respect to individual experiences and productive activities (i.e.) creative skills, good conduct, income generating activities, survival efforts.”
 He also called on civil society groups to support the media by facilitating capacity-building opportunities for journalists.
 “They should engage in advocacy activities to connect and enlist the collaboration of strategic partners and cross-cutting stakeholder groups.”
 He urged them to also help provide skills and empowerment initiatives for IDPs to enhance their livelihoods as a step towards resettlement and reintegration into the larger society.”
 Civil society groups according to him can also help facilitate research reports on IDPs in indigenous Nigerian languages to reach a wider audience and to expand the support base for IDPs.
 “Civil society groups can  help with the provision of relief items to enhance reproductive health and other gender-specific needs of women and the girl-child in IDP camps.”

JFC and the Secretary of the Abuja Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche ( 4th from the left) displaying copies of the book, Silent Cries after the media parley in Abuja recently

NGO to investigate

Akioye who is a Strategic and Development Communications Expert said the NGOs can demand investigation of abuses and prosecution of infractions like rape, assaults and corruption perpetrated against IDPs.
 “They can also demand improved transparency and public accountability of funds/resource allocated or donated for management of IDPs”
 He urged government agencies like the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, and other Pro IDP agencies to be more proactive and strategic in responding to the needs.
 “These bodies should provide succour to ameliorate their pains, not only by distributing relief materials but in addition to providing health, psychosocial supports educational and skills-capacity support.”
 He counselled that government agencies should also collaborate with civil society organisations and NGOs and other stakeholders to curtail the wide range of abuses in the IDP camps spread across the country.

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