68 journalists lose jobs to M23 insurgence in DRC

Mr Jeremie Kighoma, while presenting in la Viox de Mikeno radio before closure. (Image: Courtesy)

At least 68 journalists in North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, lost jobs and either fled their homes or workplaces following the renewed armed civil conflict between the M23 rebels and the Kinshasa government forces last year.

Mr Tuver Wundi, the Chairperson for the Journaliste en Dange (JED) North Kivu Province, has said some fled the risks of kidnap and target murder for their work while others fled the general environment of insurgency.

Journaliste en Dange is a French phrase for Journalist in Danger.

In an interview with Kazi-njema News, Mr Wundi explains that the journalists were those who were mainly from Rutshuru and Masisi areas who were forced into asylum in the provincial capital Goma where they have lived for six months.

One of the journalists and media proprietor identified as Mr Innocent Garubanda, has gone missing in the same period.

The journalists’ survival and welfare has been at the hands of fellow journalists and other good Samaritans and organisations, he adds.

Most of them worked for the 18 radio stations that were forced to close due to violence including those directly attacked by armed men in conflict.

Mr Wundi cites Voix de Mikeno in Rutshuru, RTNC Rutshuru, Umudiho FM and RCPB as some of the affected media houses that have until now remained either closed or working at about 20% programme operational lineup.

He, however, says with the return of calm in some areas, 10 of the 18 radio stations closed have reopened aiding some of the jobless journalists to return to work since mid this month.

Radio UPDECO FM 90.3 in Kiwanja is among those that have resumed operating.

He continues that as an umbrella association at provincial level, they are working with their national leaders and those in government to ensure protection of individual media practitioners and their workplaces.

Audio: Wundi on fragile security (Kiswahili)

Mr Jeremie Kighoma, a journalist who was a news reporter for La Voix de Mikeno (The Voice of Mikeno), says life turned against him starting last year when they shifted their operation base at Bunagana to Kiwanja on November 29 and later closed following an attack by armed gunmen.

“I remained in Kiwanja which is my home area despite insecurity challenges because I saw it still better than Goma where many ran to,” says Mr Kighoma.

Audio: Kighoma on journalists in danger (Kiswahili)

Practicing journalism in the conflict ridden eastern DR Congo is getting more complicated despite hope being given by the government.

Mr Patrick Muyaya the Government Spokesperson, told the press that the government is committed to protecting and promoting the freedom of the press despite the civil conflict.

He urged journalists to cooperate with the government even in investigations to ascertain the whereabouts of the reported missing journalist.

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