By Forward Maisokwadzo
The newly appointed Management Committee of the Exiled Journalists’ Network (EJN) has agreed to step up efforts to set up a safe house for journalists who have been forced out of their home countries and arrive as asylum seekers in the UK.
The Committee elected recently at EJN’s third Annual General Meeting at University of East London is chaired by Nigerian journalist Dr Abel Ugba.
The Management Committee includes secretary Pearl Thevanayagam (Sri Lanka), Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (Sierra Leone), Nick Medic (Serbia), Norbert Mbu Mputu (DRC), Mahamad Al Shagra (Iraq), Olga Birukova (Belarus), Guy Momat (DRC), Sullay Adekulay (Sierra Leone) and Forward Maisokwadzo (Zimbabwe).
EJN has been set up with the help of the Bristol-based media ethics charity MediaWise (formerly PressWise) Trust which runs the Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Media (RAM) Project. The RAM Project was set up almost five years ago to fight fair and accurate representation of refugee issues in the mass media.
EJN has developed from a loose network into a powerful organisation whose members now play a significant role within the project. Patrons include International Editor of Channel 4 News Lindsey Hilsum, Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and President of the National Union of Journalists Tim Lezard.
The USA-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) joined the National Union of Journalists and leading media figures in the UK in backing the EJN, saying it “knows of no other group like it – and it is badly needed”.
NUJ Bristol branch is a supporting member of EJN. The EJN has managed to bring together more than 200 refugee and asylum-seeking journalists from a wide variety of different countries, religions and cultures. The result is a network with the potential to have a major impact on the lives of exiled journalists. It is also an amazing resource which refugee community organisations and media houses can derive enormous benefits from.
EJN is the first organisation of its kind – not only in the UK, but the world over. But it needs both moral and financial support to grow and reach its potential.