The conflict in Yemen, which erupted more than two years ago between Houthi rebels and forces backing the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, has plunged the country into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured, millions are at risk of famine and in need of humanitarian aid, and a cholera outbreak is killing one person every hour. The conflict worsened when a Saudi led coalition, fueled by US, UK and French arms sales, launched an airstrike campaign in support of the internationally-recognized government of Hadi in March 2015.
Yet, this conflict has come to be known as the “forgotten war“, and what exacerbates the lack of media coverage are the risks journalists and media in Yemen face. At a time when the voices of Yemeni journalists and media are most needed, they are instead being silenced by the different warring parties: the Houthis, the Saudi led coalition and other groups taking part in the fighting.
Other countries in the Arab region see similar challenges. In Western Sahara, media activists reporting on the occupation and documenting Moroccan forces’ human rights violations face legal threats and lengthy jail sentences.
Freedom of expression and press freedom are under siege in most Arab region countries. Wars, ongoing conflicts, and a repressive environment are making it difficult — and sometimes impossible — for journalists to do their jobs and report the truth.
In addition, as some of the region’s conflicts drag on for years and even decades, readers are becoming desensitized to the suffering and stories of those caught up in conflict and repression.
My editorial goal is to amplify local voices from MENA region countries that are going through conflicts: Syria, Yemen, Libya, Palestine and Western Sahara
To achieve this goal, I will be working closely with the MENA region editor Joey Ayoub and Arabic Translation Manager Lara AlMalakeh to:
- Recruit new voices to write about conflicts in their countries from a personal perspective, and on the impact of such conflicts on the day to day lives of those experiencing them
- Launch two partnerships with two publications or organizations from the region
We are already in the process of establishing a partnership with the Syrian Female Network Journalists (SFJN) to bring more stories from/about Syria.
As the Advox editor for the MENA region, and under the supervision of the Advox director I will also be working with these new authors or organizations to find the areas of their knowledge and experience that intersect with issues of free expression and access to information. I have already discussed with SFJN the possibility to work on 1 or 2 stories about gender and technology in the Arab region.
- 1 March-31 March: Contact potential contributors and organizations (ongoing)
- In March: Launch a partnership with the Syrian Female Journalists Network (in progress)
- By 15 April: Recruit one author from each of the countries listed above or launch a partnership with 1 to 2 organizations that cover the above-mentioned countries (we are already in the process of starting a partnership with the SFJN and I have also been in touch with a Western Sahara based media activist on potential collaboration)
- 15 April- 30 April: Support the MENA region editor to introduce new authors to GV’s editorial guidelines and provide mentorship to those writing Advox-related stories
- By 30 April: Publish at least one post by each author or organization
- 1 May-31 May: Publish two-advox related stories on gender and technology in collaboration with the SFJN