Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghanistan: Mar ‘08

IWPR staff brief international media on key Afghan news developments.

The IWPR team fielded a host of enquiries from international media in March and two of our reporters were invited to attend an international training seminar after impressing the organisers with their output.

Over the past 18 months, IWPR’s Helmand project has produced dozens of articles, most of them groundbreaking reports from parts of the province inaccessible to international journalists. The excellence of the output has attracted the attention of the world media, many of whom now come to IWPR for assistance in reporting on Helmand province as well as for analysis of the overall situation.

In March, programme director Jean MacKenzie met journalists from the London Times, the Sunday Times, answered enquiries from the Observer, gave a telephone interview to Danish television, and attended an international workshop on communications strategies for Afghanistan.

IWPR-trained reporter Yaqub Ibrahimi briefed the Norwegian embassy on the situation in the north of the country, and gave interviews to dozens of media outlets from around the world about his brother, Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, who is in prison under sentence of death for allegedly downloading and distributing a piece critical of Islam’s treatment of women.

Two IWPR trainees, Mohammad Ilyas Dayee and Aziz Ahmad Tassal, were invited to a training on conflict reporting organised by Internews. When selected, they were told it was on the strength of their work with IWPR. These young men are two of the most active journalists in Helmand, and, thanks to IWPR’s training and mentoring, have grown into professionals much sought after by the national and international media.

All of this points to the very significant impact that IWPR has had on the world’s perception Afghanistan.

In Helmand, it has also directly affected the status of journalists, and their ability to do their jobs.

“One year ago, before IWPR, no journalist would dare to ask even a simple question of the chief of police,” said Dayee. “Now when they see us, they listen to us and respect us.”

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