Three DW Akademie employees were evacuated from South Sudan after fighting broke out in the capital, Juba. Deutsche Welle is conducting projects in South Sudan to support the development of the country's media sector.
The three DW Akademie consultants were evacuated from Juba on a special flight to Nairobi. Approximately 160 German passengers were on board the flight, organized by the German embassy and the German Federal Foreign Office's crisis management team.
Heavy clashes in Juba broke out mid-December between rival South Sudan army factions and the airport was closed off for civilian flights. According to reports up to 20,000 people took refuge in UN offices.
Just days before the fighting began two DW Akademie staff members had travelled to Juba for consultation talks. A third DW Akademie employee had been on location in the provincial capital, Bor.
For the past seven years DW Akademie has supported the development of a professional media sector in Sudan and South Sudan, focusing primarily on radio. Given decades of civil war and ethnic unrest, training has concentrated on peace journalism and conflict-sensitive reporting. DW Akademie has also been supporting the development of a South Sudanese state broadcaster as well as a limited number of stations for the private sector and those active in civil society. The projects are primarily funded by the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ). The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has also commissioned DW Akademie and partner organizations to develop a public radio broadcaster in Jonglei State. Conflicts in this region are also being reported.
A major problem in South Sudan is the lack of reliable news sources. Of the country's nine million inhabitants approximately 85 percent are illiterate; one in two people live under the poverty line. Most South Sudanese cannot afford a television and have never learned to read. Radio is therefore the primary medium. According to a survey commissioned by DW Akademie - the first survey of this type ever conducted in Jonglei State - more than half of those interviewed said they listened to radio for accessing information. Media reach beyond the capital Juba, however, is very limited.