Radio as a humanitarian protagonist

Co-funded by SDC, Fondation Hirondelle supports local radio in crises and conflict areas to help make it a source of reliable and unbiased information. Recently launched radio spots produced by the International Committee of the Red Cross provide up-to-date information about international humanitarian law and other key themes.
 

Radio Okapi's studio
Radio Okapi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the radio stations which broadcast the ICRC's spots and interviews on humanitarian themes. © MONUSCO

Supported by SDC, Fondation Hirondelle assists the development and operation of independent media in conflict and post-conflict regions. By transmitting impartial, substantiated information, the foundation aims to promote peace and to contribute to countries' economic development and democratisation. Its primary objective is to defend the right to information. Radio stations such as Radio Okapi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Radio Gafsa in Tunisia and Radio Miraya in South Sudan assume their role as credible media outlets thanks to the support of Fondation Hirondelle.

Protection of victims: a priority
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and of the signing of the first Geneva Convention, the SDC, Fondation Hirondelle and the ICRC launched a partnership. Its aim is to help to protect victims of armed conflict using widely aired radio programmes. Newsflashes and interviews translated into local languages inform populations concerned with violence on the basic principles of international humanitarian law (e.g. protection of the civilian population and medical staff, access to health care) and the values of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Radio interview: What is international humanitarian law?

The media project supported by the SDC is carried out in three current areas of crisis in Africa: Mali, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the DRC. There is Fondation Hirondelle working in close cooperation with local partners, so that the Swiss foundation originally formed by journalists can reach a very wide audience. In addition to a large part of the civilian population, this audience also includes security forces, armed troops, authorities, actors in the justice and prison system and different political parties.

Raising awareness of rights and duties
Radio spots highlight to the population and actors involved in conflicts which rules, rights and duties apply to them. Some of the ten themes covered include international humanitarian law and how it is implemented in practice, the situation in prisons and dealing with sexual violence.

Radio spot: Sexual violence

This makes radio stations a channel of information for the affected population as well as tools for alternative action. For example, people who have lost touch with family members are referred to an office that can help them with their difficult search.

The radio spots also have an impact on humanitarian workers' activities: the knowledge imparted on the meaning of the Red Cross or Red Crescent symbols makes their daily work easier.