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

Caucasus: Apr '08

CCJN journalists given expert briefing on problems facing internally-displaced persons.
Eight journalists from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the unrecognised republic of South Ossetia and the autonomous republic of North Ossetia in the Russian Federation attended a training workshop on internally-displaced persons, IDPs

The training session, part of the Cross Caucasus Journalism Network, was organised jointly with Aland Islands Peace Institute, Aland Islands, Finland, and was conducted by an expert on the subject, Rhodri Williams, who works as a researcher at the institute.

During the three-day event, the journalists were briefed on international law provisions for IDPs and, in a group discussion, analysed legislation on IDPs in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

During a meeting with Liana Beria of the Association of Women of Abhazia, the participants were informed of the everyday problems IDPs face and learnt about the work of the non-governmental sector in this area. Beria criticised media coverage of IDPs, saying that it projects negative stereotypes.

“If an IDP manages to rebuild his life, or an IDP project is successful, you never hear about that in the media. Journalists are interested only in the statements of [political leaders],” she said.

The journalists also discussed issues such as property restitution, the rights of IDPs and the role of international organisations. The final section of the training session was devoted to how the media covers IDPs. It was agreed that often, when journalists write features on IDPs, they concentrate on portraying the harsh conditions in which they live without offering much context or background.

The third day of the event was devoted to a visit to a collective centre, with the journalists interviewing its IDP residents.

“This workshop was extremely interesting,” said Guram Chiaev from Tskhinval/i, South Ossetia.

“In our societies we are so used to IDPs that we don’t think about them that much.”

The journalists prepared reports for their own media, which will soon be posted on the CCJN website.

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