Radio Okapi

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Radio Okapi (see "is a radio network set up in 2002 in the Democratic Republic of Congo to provide reliable, accurate, non-partisan information to the Congolese listening audience. A joint project of the UN Peace Observer Mission in the Congo and Swiss-based Fondation Hirondelle, it has an express mandate to promote the process of dialogue and peacebuilding in the Congo. It broadcasts in French and the four most commonly spoken languages in the Congo, with programmes devoted to themes such as health, education, human rights, culture and music.

"Radio Okapi was launched to broadcast across the vast territory of the DR Congo, providing services to approximately 45 million inhabitants. It is a joint project of the UN Mission (known by its French acronym, Monuc) and the Fondation Hirondelle, a Swiss-based organisation of journalists which sets up and operates media services in crisis areas. Fondation Hirondelle has previously managed radio projects in the Great Lakes region of Africa, Liberia, Kosovo, Central African Republic, and Timor, and established a news service at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda at Arusha in Tanzania...

"But there have been setbacks as well. In fact, practising journalism has remained a hazardous profession in the Congo, with rebel groups frequently threatening or harassing journalists. In September 2002, Radio Okapi correspondent Franklin Moliba-Sese was arrested in Gbadolite by the Congolese Liberation Movement. The arrest followed a report by Sese on the poor living conditions which thousands of child soldiers serving in the MLC army must endure. The MLC justified the arrest, saying his report had not been 'sanctioned'. Moliba was eventually released after Monuc intervened.

"Beyond such challenges to the network's journalistic integrity, there is the challenge of securing its future. The mandate of Monuc will eventually come to an end, as will the current grants, which totalled approximately $1.9 million in 2002, with 85 percent of the funds provided by the Swiss and British governments and additional funding provided by USAID. "We know that we will leave, and that the UN will leave," says David Smith. "Peacekeeping nowadays has deadlines ... The idea is that Hirondelle will keep on managing it, once the mission leaves, and for the entire staff to be local." Eventually Hirondelle also hopes to hand over management of the network to a team of local journalists." [1]

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  1. Radio Okapi: Voice of Dialogue, gppac, accessed January 19, 2009.