Sahel Region Increasingly Difficult Work Area for Journalists in West Africa – Report

Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) says in its latest report that journalists are facing growing difficulties to freely cover events in the Sahel region, especially after military coups in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso.

RSF warns that the Sahel region, which stretches across the continent from west to east, is at risk of becoming “the biggest non-information zone in Africa.”….. CONTINUE READING 

The expulsion of journalists from the French newspapers Le Monde and Libération by the ruling junta in Burkina Faso on Saturday has made the situation even more challenging.

However, RSF’s report was written before their expulsion. The report covers Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, and also the northern part of Benin, which is facing similar security challenges.

Violence of jihadists

It describes journalists caught between violence of jihadists and armed groups, and authorities that restrict, pressure, suspend or expel foreign correspondents.

The report also highlights the negative impact of the arrival of the Russian private security company Wagner in Mali.

According to the report, “five journalists were murdered, and six others went missing between 2013 and 2023.”

Nearly 120 journalists were arrested or detained during this period, 72 of whom were in Chad alone.

The report notes attacks by jihadists and the disappearance of popular community radio stations. Large areas have become inaccessible to journalists because they are too dangerous, and sources are “terrified” of retaliation from armed groups and authorities, preventing people from speaking to journalists.

Military authorities in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad sought “to control the media through prohibitive or restrictive measures, as well as arbitrary attacks or arrests” as soon as they grabbed power.

RSF also noted the suspension of the French media outlets France 24 and Radio France Internationale (RFI) in Mali and Burkina Faso.

With the expulsion or forced departure of foreign correspondents because their accreditation expired, the field is left “open to media favorable to the pro-Russian narrative defending the presence of Wagner mercenaries in the region,” which contributes “to the explosion of disinformation,” according to the watchdog.

RSF also mentions the deterioration of the financial situation of the media due to the crisis and the decrease of state subsidies…… CONTINUE READING

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