The Assistance Desk at Reporters Without Borders’ International Secretariat and its counterpart at the headquarters of RWB’s German section in Berlin are responsible for coordinating administrative, material and financial support to journalists and media in distress.
Helping journalists find a safe refugee, assisting persecuted media, paying the medical or legal bills of journalists who are the targets of violence or judicial proceedings, providing emergency assistance to journalists who have fled their country – such are the activities that Reporters Without Borders undertakes to help news providers in situations of crisis.
Reporters Without Borders disbursed 166 assistance grants in 2012 with a total value of more than €160,000.
A third of the grants disbursed in 2012 benefitted journalists from the Middle East, above all Syria and Iran, where a civil war and endemic repression have resulted in a massive exodus of ews providers. More than 40 Syrian journalists fled their country in 2012. Increased repression in Iran ahead of the March 2012 legislative elections forced dozens of journalists to flee.
Breakdown of aid by geographic origin of recipients
Reporters Without Borders also provided a great deal of assistance to Horn of Africa journalists, espeically those fleeing violence in Somalia and authoritarian rule in Eritrea. A total of 34 per cent of the grants went to African journalists. In all, more than 40 per cent of the recipients were journalists who had fled their country.
Breakdown of grants by kind of recipient
Reporters Without Borders wrote more than 100 support letters with the aim of helping journalists to obtain a visa or adequate international protection. In addition to these letters, RWB communicated with the representatives of various UNHCR offices, including its Sudan office, with the aim of improving assistance for Eritrean journalists. Following a meeting with representatives of UNHCR’s Nairobi office in December 2011, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Rory Peck Trust carried out joint advocacy activities with the aim of promoting better understanding of the situation of Somali journalists who have fled to Kenya and obtaining better protection for them.
In 2012, Reporters Without Borders also supported professional journalists and citizen-journalists who defy threats and dangers to provide their fellow citizens and the international community with news and information.
A quarter of the assistance provided by RWB was to support the activities of independent media, professional journalists and citizen-journalists. Material support was provided to citizen-journalists documenting developments and human rights violations in northern Syria. To thwart censorship attempts, RWB also created mirror versions of news websites that had been blocked by governments or had been the target of cyber-attacks.
Breakdown of grants by purpose
Thirteen per cent of the grants enabled threatened journalists to find a safe refuge in their own country, or to flee to a neighbouring country or to Europe if the gravity of the threats so required. The main beneficiaries were Western or Central Asian journalists – including Azerbaijanis and Uzbeks – and Latin American journalists – especially Hondurans and Colombians.
Thirty-five percent of RWB’s financial support paid legal fees, enabling journalists to be defended by a lawyer (11 per cent), helped families cope with the loss of income resulting from a journalist’s imprisonment, hospitalization or death (7 per cent) or paid the medical bills of journalists injured in connection with their work (17 per cent).
Breakdown of RWB’s support letters by geographic origin of the journalist supported and by category of the official to whom the letters were sent.
This activity was carried out with support from the European Union’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.
The French Development Agency (FDP) also supports this activity by Reporters Without Borders.