Director-General condemns attack on media centre in Homs (Syria)

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the shelling of the makeshift media centre in Homs by the Syrian army. The incident took place on 22 February, leaving two journalists dead and several injured. The Director-General urged the Syrian authorities to respect the civilian status of reporters and protect their safety.

“I condemn the attack in Homs which killed U.S. war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik,” the Director-General said. “I am concerned about the other reporters injured and call on the authorities and armed forces to respect the civilian status of journalists in conflict zones. Attacking journalists contravenes the Geneva Conventions, which Syria has ratified, and UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists in armed conflict,” Ms Bokova added.

Marie Colvin was an experienced London-based war reporter who was in the beleaguered city of Homs for The Sunday Times (UK). She had previously reported on conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Iran, and Sri Lanka, as well as the Arab Spring.

French freelance photographer Remi Ochlik had covered conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, elections in Haiti, and the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. His work has been published in Le Monde, Paris Match, as well as Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

These two deaths bring to six the number of journalists killed in Syria since the start of protests in the country last year. Four other journalists and media workers killed there since then are listed on UNESCO’s dedicated webpage, UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists.


Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”