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SOMA calls for journalists to amplify coverage of climate crisis in Somalia


Hassan Istiila
Sunday May 5, 2024


FILE PHOTO

Mogadishu (HOL) - The Somali Media Association (SOMA) has pledged to increase empowering Somali journalists to skillfully report on environmental issues and connect local stories to the broader climate crisis.

SOMA joined worldwide groups and organizations in marking World Press Freedom Day on Friday, May 3, 2024, under the theme “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis.”

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Secretary General of the Somali Media Association (SOMA), Mohamed Osman Makaran, emphasized the importance of Press Freedom Day and enhancing media coverage of environmental and climate crises in Somalia.

From May 2023 to May 2024, 28 cases of violence against Somali journalists, including killings, torture, and arrests, have been recorded. The three journalists killed in the last year were Ismail Sheikh Khalifa, former Secretary General of SOMA, who died on May 10, 2023, succumbing to long-term injuries caused by a bomb attached to his vehicle; Abdikarim Ahmed Bulhan, killed in Abudwak district, Galmudug State, on March 14, 2024; and Abdifatah Moalin Qeys, killed in a suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu on October 16, 2023.

SOMA's statement showed that 20 other journalists working in various areas were subjected to detention, torture, kidnapping, and forced removal from their areas of work. There was also an incident of Radio Brava being attacked and staff arrested.

“Out of the 28 cases of violence, only one case, that of journalist Abdikarim Ahmed Bulhan, has received justice after the man found guilty of his murder was sentenced to death, while most of the journalists have not been provided with proper justice,” the statement said.

Organizations advocating for media rights in Somalia redoubled their protests against the nine-member Somali National Media Council formed by the federal government in March 2024. They stated that there was no consultation with media organizations and that the newly appointed Council members were government workers.

The Somali Media Association (SOMA) urged President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to intervene and refrain from signing the established media council into a presidential decree.

This year, Somalia marks World Press Freedom Day as El Niño, a naturally occurring climate pattern associated with increased temperatures worldwide, worsens the abnormally heavy rainfall hitting the country’s south and central regions.

The impact of El Niño-induced heavy rains and flooding during the long (Gu) rainy season from March to June has been devastating several regions of Somalia. According to UNOCHA, heavy rains and flooding have affected nearly 127,000 people in Somalia and further displaced 8,376 people. 

The heavy rains and floods have also damaged infrastructure and diminished access to water and sanitation services while increasing the risk of diseases such as cholera. Weather forecasts indicate heavy rainfall of more than 200 mm is expected over some parts of the Galmudug and Puntland states of Somalia.

In the central Somali town of Beledweyne, Hiiraan region, thousands of families fled from their homes after floods caused by hours of rainfall affected several neighbourhoods in the town, with no human casualties reported.

The U.N. General Assembly established World Press Freedom Day in 1993. World Press Freedom Day aims to highlight the significant role that the press, journalism, access to information, and dissemination of information play in ensuring a sustainable future.

Somalia is the second most climate-vulnerable country in the world and one of the least prepared to face the climate crisis, according to the Global Climate Index ND-GAIN.



 





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