Tuesday, May 04, 2010

On World Press Freedom Day, AMARC asserts communication rights of disaster hit communities

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 3, 2010 - On the occasion of World Press
Freedom Day (3 May) AMARC, the World Association of Community Radio
Broadcasters, calls on governments and international agencies to
respect the communication rights of communities struck by disaster
and to recognise the vital role of community media in disaster
response and reconstruction.

In the Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010, community media support
organisations in Port-au-Prince suffered complete destruction of
their facilities. Community radio stations were directly affected in
12 disaster struck communities while, in other parts of the country,
community broadcasters provided vital information on missing persons
and needs of displaced people.

In the Chile earthquake of 27 February 2010, 15 community radio
stations suffered serious damage, of which 10 lost their entire
buildings. At least 40 others were directly affected but quickly back
on air ensuring access to information, providing psychological
support and enabling people to air their concerns about the pace and
progress of disaster response and humanitarian relief.

AMARC believes greater attention needs to be given to respect for
communication rights in humanitarian disaster response and
reconstruction. It is not sufficient to focus on informational
messages to disaster hit communities. The first responders are people
in the communities themselves who need communication tools to
organise local relief. The most vulnerable people - women, children,
the elderly and the disabled - are often the last to be heard. Civil
society organisations need to have voice and involvement in the
process of reconstruction. International agencies and governments
must do more to demonstrate transparency and accountability.

AMARC marked World Press Freedom Day in Haiti with the signing of an
accord in Port-au-Prince with the Haitian community media support
organisation, SAKS, Sosyete Animasyon Komunikasyon Sosyal, for a
joint programme of work on humanitarian communication, reconstruction
and community media development. The programme, which will run
initially for a period of six months, is supported by Open Society
Institute, Free Voice, Diakonie, Development and Peace, UNESCO,
International Media Support, Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs
and Japan Platform among others. It builds on an international
solidarity response to the Haiti emergency from community media
activists and organisations including Amisnet, ALER, Radio Santa
Maria, BHN Communications, Austin Airwaves, WACC and AMARC's regional
offices in Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.


Through service to members, networking and project implementation,
the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters AMARC, brings
together a network of more than 4,000 community radios, federations
and community media stakeholders in more than 115 countries. Since
its creation in 1983, AMARC has supported the development of a world
wide community radio sector that has democratized the media
landscape. AMARC advocates for the right to communicate at the
international, national, local and neighbourhood levels and defends
and promotes the interests of the community radio movement through
solidarity, networking and cooperation.

For further information visit http://www.amarc.org