East African journalists fleeing violence in their countries make up nearly half of the more than 450 journalists forced into exile in the past five years, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its “Journalists in Exile 2012″ report marking World Refugee Day.
“There is a journalist refugee crisis in East Africa that has drastically affected the region’s ability to maintain media institutions that provide reliable, vital information,” said Maria Salazar-Ferro, CPJ Journalist Assistance program coordinator and co-author of the report. “After enduring violence and threats, these journalists fled for their lives, only to land in a state of prolonged uncertainty as governments and the U.N. refugee agency process their cases.”
In the past year, more than a quarter of the 57 journalists who fled their homes came from an East African nation. The greatest number fled violence in Somalia, where six journalists have been killed in 2012 and no journalist murders have been prosecuted since 1992. Eritrea and Ethiopia, East Africa’s worst jailers of journalists, also lost many to exile. Journalists also sought refuge from targeted attacks and threats in conflict-ridden Syria and Pakistan.
CPJ’s annual survey of journalists in exile counts those who fled due to work-related persecution in the past 12 months and provides an overview of the past five years. Dozens of journalists seeking asylum without the legal right to work nor access to basic services live in desperate, insecure, and impoverished conditions, CPJ research shows. To help journalists reach safe destinations, regain stability, and earn a living, CPJ’s Journalist Assistance Program works with other organizations to optimize advocacy, logistical, and financial support.
A special effort is being made to help East African journalists deal with this crisis.