Juba, February, 16th, 2017 (UNESCO). About fifty journalists working for radio stations located in various states in South Sudan have been trained in conflict sensitive reporting and peace journalism in Juba. The training, under the theme ‘‘Communicating with Communities’’, was conducted by UNESCO and UNDP. The three day training equipped journalists with conflict sensitive reporting skills to enable them to report in a manner that promotes and builds peace.

Speaking at the opening of the training, Hon. Justine Aler De Mayen, the Under Secretary Ministry of Information, Communication, Telecommunication and Postal Services said the government supports press freedoms : ‘‘The government of South Sudan respects freedom of the press because it is this freedom that we fought for until we gained independence in 2011.’’ She added ‘‘so we have to defend press freedoms.’’

The trained journalists belong to ‘‘Radio for Peace Network’’ (RaPNET). Josephine Achiro an official of the radio correspondents’ network urged participants in the training to involve their communities in their news and programming. ‘‘The community should be part of the radio content you produce and radio should address the needs of your communities,’’ Achiro noted.

The conflict sensitive reporting training focused on guidelines for reporting conflict and peace, the importance of gender sensitivity in reporting conflicts, safety for journalists working in conflict areas and ethical guidelines for journalists covering conflicts and peacebuilding, among other topics.

At the end of the three day training, the journalists said it had helped improve their understanding of how the media can be used to promote peace. ‘‘I am a fresh graduate. But now I know how to report conflict. For example, I know that in a conflict a reporter should not only focus on parties involved in the conflict but also on solutions being proposed to address the conflict,’’ said Viola Elias, 24, a recent graduate of journalism from Uganda Christian University.

Moses Okwera Daniel, 23, a reporter with Voice of Freedom in Magwi, Imatong state said: ‘‘It was my first time to attend such a training. Now I know how to plan and conduct interviews. I have also learnt that journalists working in a conflict situation should always take safety precautions in the course of their work.’’

Journalism practitioners, trainers and scholars agree that if used in a conflict sensitive manner, the media can play an instrumental role in deescalating conflicts and building peace in conflict and post conflict situations.