|Assistance to Independent Media in Conflict Areas|
UNESCO's strategy in armed conflict areas and post conflict situations is threefold:
* to give the technical and material assistance enabling the survival of existing independent media, as well as the creation of new outlets to promote media pluralism;
* to ease contact and information exchange between non-partisan media in the region, and with the rest of the world;
* to support the establishment of the conditions necessary to press freedom.
These activities are both of a humanitarian and emergency nature. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs recognized this in the United Nations Inter-Agency Appeal (June 1994). Consequently, assistance to independent media is on the list of emergency needs for former Yugoslavia. In 1996, UNESCO was designated 'lead agency for assistance to independent media for the reconstruction period in former Yugoslavia' by the UN Inter-Agency Appeal.
During the conflict in former Yugoslavia, independent journalists came under heavy political pressure. Independent media were fighting for survival, and access to unbiased information was becoming increasingly difficult for the public. In December 1993, in accordance with its constitutional mandate "to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image", UNESCO launched a pilot programme to assist independent media in conflict areas. Special emphasis was given to former Yugoslavia. After the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in Dec. 95, UNESCO renewed its support to independent media so as to pave the way towards the democracy and peace process. Over the last four years, UNESCO has supplied several tons of equipment to electronic media, newsprint to the independent printed media, office equipment to independent news agencies and training for journalists in most of the republics and territories of former Yugoslavia.
After a first experience in former Yugoslavia, the programme extended its activities in 1995 to Rwanda and Burundi. Since that time, UNESCO has continued to support the independent media in several areas of conflict, so as to pave the way towards democracy and advance the peace process. UNESCO has placed special emphasis on establishing the conditions necessary to give the public access to non-partisan information in the Great Lakes region, where rumors and hatred propaganda replaced information during the time of the genocide and crisis. In addition, a primary goal is the promotion of a new corps of journalists to make up for the tragic losses within the community of Rwandan and Burundian journalists.