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IFJ Launches Emergency Appeal for Pakistani Journalists

May 26, 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is launching an emergency appeal to provide emergency financial support to more than 100 journalists and their families who were forced to flee the intense conflict in northern Pakistan in late May 2009.

The specific objectives of this internal appeal are to enable the PFUJ and the Khyber union
ˇ Offer emergency assistance to an overwhelming number of journalists and their
families who have lost their homes, possessions and livelihoods.
ˇ Organise immediate accommodation alternatives for affected families currently
sheltering in tents in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
ˇ Organise short-term relocation alternatives for journalists and their families
currently in Peshawar, including possibly shifting to Abbottabad, a town closer to
Swat with a cooler climate.
ˇ Provide interim financial relief as well as consider long-term sustainability options for journalists who have lost all possessions and the ability to work to support
their families on a case-by-case basis.

Background of the crisis:

More than 100 journalists or media workers and their families are among millions displaced civilians in northern Pakistan, according to the UNHCR, as a result of the on-going conflict in Swat Valley, in North-West Frontier Province. The Peshawar-based Khyber Union of Journalists, an affiliate union of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), reports that the homes of many of these media personnel have been destroyed in the fighting between Pakistan′s armed forces and militants grouped under the banner of "Taliban". Most have reportedly lost their homes, their possessions and their jobs.

The IFJ national and local affiliated unions in Pakistan have set up emergency systems to try to provide affected media personnel and their families with additional humanitarian support. The Khyber union, a strong regional affiliate union of the PFUJ, has mobilised to provide a basic emergency response through the Peshawar Press Club and other professional associations.

At least 60 journalists and their families had registered at the Press Club by May 19,
according to information from the Khyber union, but this number is expected to rise (a non-union source reported late on May 19 that 120 families had registered in Peshawar). A further 30 families are believed to have registered in the Mardan district of NWFP.

At the moment, the Khyber union is distributing what funds it has, including a EUR 5,000 grant from Reporters Without Borders, to the neediest families. In order to maintain a basic emergency response, the IFJ, the Khyber union and the PFUJ
are appealing for a substantial injection of funds, noting also that the number of affected journalists and families is expected to rise.

The Khyber union currently reports that the most urgent need is to find alternative
accommodation for the families now sheltering in tents. The union is now looking for suitable places in Abbottabad, NWFP.

IFJ Support:

The IFJ has approved a grant of 10,000 EUR towards emergency relief of journalists and their families who have been affected by the conflict. Further help is needed, hence the present appeal.

In addition to immediate provision of short-term support, the IFJ will assess longer-term options to assist our colleagues in Pakistan. The need for affected journalists and media workers to find sustainable livelihoods and for the media community of northern Pakistan to rebuild and begin functioning again will be a future priority for consideration.

How to Donate

Please send donations to the IFJ Safety Fund:
a/c BE64 2100 7857 0052
Swift Code: GEBABEBB
Fortis Bank, Rond Point Schuman 10, 1040

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Phone: +32 2 235 2207

IFJ Asia-Pacific
Phone: +612 9333 0919

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