CPJ: Journalist refugee crisis devastates East African media

New York, June 19, 2012— East African journalists fleeingviolence in their countries make up nearly half of the more than 450 journalists forcedinto exile in the past five years, the Committee to Protect Journalists foundin its “Journalistsin Exile 2012” report marking World Refugee Day.

“There is a journalist refugee crisis in East Africa thathas drastically affected the region’s ability to maintain media institutionsthat provide reliable, vital information,” said Maria Salazar-Ferro, CPJJournalist Assistance program coordinator and co-author of the report. “Afterenduring violence and threats, these journalists fled for their lives, only toland in a state of prolonged uncertainty as governments and the U.N. refugeeagency process their cases.”

In the past year, more than a quarter of the 57 journalistswho fled their homes came from an East African nation. The greatest number fledviolence in Somalia, where six journalists have been killed in 2012 and no journalist murders have beenprosecuted since 1992. Eritrea and Ethiopia, East Africa’s worst jailers of journalists,also lost many to exile. Journalists also sought refuge from targeted attacksand threats in conflict-ridden Syria and Pakistan.

CPJ’s annual survey of journalists in exile counts those whofled due to work-related persecution in the past 12 months and provides anoverview of the past five years. Dozens of journalists seeking asylum withoutthe legal right to work nor access to basic services live in desperate,insecure, and impoverished conditions, CPJ research shows. To help journalistsreach safe destinations, regain stability, and earn a living, CPJ’s Journalist Assistance Program workswith other organizations to optimize advocacy, logistical, and financial support.A specialeffort is being made to help East African journalists deal with thiscrisis.

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CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization
that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

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