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Why media should relook into peace building and conflict reporting

analysis, monitoring

The start of November brought peacemakers to a round table at the International Peace Support Training Centre in Karen, Nairobi, where peace, stability and security in Africa and the world was discussed.

Opening the conference that had participants from 67 countries, President William Ruto said that war, instability, and conflict have far-reaching consequences on people’s social, economic, industrial, and environmental wellbeing. He added that emphasis in conflict resolutions should shift from just military and police alone and focus more on a multidisciplinary approach that includes civil society, academics, and researchers.

The call by the President to have a wider segment of professionals integrated to address inter-related problems in war and conflict appeared to challenge the media to also reconsider reporting the subject more widely, consistently, and objectively.  

In its editorial Watchlist Insight Report published in June this year, the International Rescue Committee states that 10 countries on the 2023 crisis watchlist are home to just 13 per cent of the global population, yet they account for 90 per cent of people in humanitarian need and 81 per cent of the people who have been forcibly displaced. 

The report further points to decades-long conflicts, economic turmoil, and now the devastating effects of climate change as aggravators to the crisis, listing Ukraine, Haiti, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia as the most affected countries. 

As the media undertakes its role of informing and educating the masses, reporting objectively on players in dispute resolution offers media more opportunity to remain professional, neutral, and more participatory in its role as a watchdog.

Quantifying the extent of economic impact and how long it would take to restore the situation back to normal, constantly highlighting the role played by civilian professionals such as peace negotiators, war and conflict economic assessors, victims’ counsellors, peace and development experts, inter-faith led groups, as well as community based peace building initiatives; will give a voice to the most vulnerable humanity in need of humanitarian support, as well as accelerate the voice to reach a truce.

Media mostly falls for the politicians’ prominence, foregoing the professionals, who most of the time are permanently committed in the community and have a thorough knowledge of the underlying issues. Thus, giving them a chance to express and communicate their experience can go a long way in restoring structures for peace building purposes. 

Much focus by media has been on warlords, and military participation, with some emphasis on the victims such as refugees and displaced persons occurring occasionally as general information. However, giving more emphasis on war consequences in terms of livelihoods’ damaged will give an all-round news perspective.

Take the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 100 armed groups are fighting for control of the eastern region, with data by the International Organisation for Migration revealing in October that 6.9 million people have been rendered homeless by the war.

If the media highlighted and gave analysis of war damage to life and property from the perspective of economy and livelihoods, the world would be better informed about the impacts of war and conflict. This could probably dissuade those in leadership from looking at war full throttle as the solution to a dispute.

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