Pia Philip Michael, the Undersecretary for the National Ministry of Peacebuilding. [Photo: IOM/Jale Richard]

WRD: Peacebuilding ministry urges media to promote peace

The undersecretary in the national ministry of peacebuilding has urged media houses in South Sudan to report matters objectively to avoid fuelling conflict.

The undersecretary in the national ministry of peacebuilding has urged media houses in South Sudan to report matters objectively to avoid fuelling conflict. 

Pia Phillip Michael, in an interview with Radio Tamazuj on World Radio Day, said although access to the radio or media is a challenge in the country, it is an important tool in conveying information and promoting peace. 

“Radio is a platform or a means of sharing information and it connects people and radio expands information from one place to the other. Radio plays a significant role in peace because it communicates all those issues that deal with peace among people,” he said. “However, access to radio or media is very limited. People don’t even know what the government is planning for them because of the very limited access to radio. That is one of the problems that promote community violence.”

Phillip says without the radio many communities have very limited or no information regarding government works or plans. He adds that the vicious cycle of revenge killings is a result of a lack of information regarding peace and reconciliation efforts. 

The ministry, he says, has drafted a communication strategy to encourage the dissemination of positive stories about the country. Phillip says they are engaging with both local and international media houses to realize this. 

“The ministry of peacebuilding has come up with a draft communication strategy that is going to help in telling the positive story about South Sudan. Because what is in most of the media is very negative. It is like South Sudan doesn’t have peace. And that aspect gives no hope to our people,” he noted.

He adds, “The ministry is currently encouraging positive information sharing about peace in South Sudan. Building hope in the people. We are also engaging with our international media and different media platforms to fight hate speech that seems to be dividing people.”

The undersecretary pointed out that his ministry has partnered with several media houses in the country to disseminate the peace agreement, discuss peace and reconciliation conferences and their resolutions and encourage social cohesion among communities. 

All is not rosy in the ministry, Phillip says, peacebuilding actors must work together and contextualize approaches to be effective. 

“The biggest challenge is that many of our partners have been doing what they do for peace-building on their own, and their peace-building approach is not conceptualized to the culture and customs of the people of South Sudan,” he said. “But we are now working on a strategy that will encourage the people to be able to implement the policies and strategies of the ministry of engaging partners to work together on peacebuilding.

In conclusion, the official encouraged media houses to be fair in their reporting.

“I want to encourage all media houses to be fair in their reporting and not to only paint a very negative picture of South Sudan. They should not focus only on the conflict and the negative part. By the time the media focuses only on the negative part, and forgets about the positive part, you are creating trauma in the state and the hearts of our people,” he urged.