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Somalia29 April 2009

Independent news agency launched in Djibouti aims to be reliable source of news about Somalia

The Somali Independent News Agency (SOMINA) was unveiled today in Djibouti by Omar Faruk Osman Nur, the secretary-general of the National Union of Somali journalists, and Robert Ménard, the head of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. It is intended to be an independent source of reliable and objective news about Somalia, one of Africa’s most troubled countries.

In a ceremony at SOMINA’s offices in the centre of Djibouti city, journalists were shown the news agency’s installations and equipment, and its website.

“We would firstly like to hail the persistence of the Somali journalists and NUSOJ, who have been working for months in order to succeed in establishing a really independent news outlet,” said Ménard, whose centre is funding SOMINA’s operations during the first year.

“We are pleased to be providing our help, together with Reporters Without Borders, for an initiative that will enable the Somali and international press to finally have a credible news agency,” Ménard said. “All those who have made this original project possible, especially the authorities of Djibouti, can be proud of having allowed it to come into being.”

Nur, whose union supervised SOMINA’s installation in a modern Djibouti building, said: “The creation of an independent news agency run by Somali journalists is an historic event. We are proud that Somali journalists who were forced to leave the country will be able to resume working in liaison with colleagues still in the field in Somalia.”

He added: “This new media outlet would not have existed without the Republic of Djibouti’s support and a significant degree of involvement by the Doha Centre for Media Freedom and Reporters Without Borders.”

The agency will employ three journalists at its Djibouti headquarters, a fulltime correspondent in Mogadishu, and seven stringers in the main provincial cities. It is sponsored by NUSOJ and Reporters Without Borders, which were behind its creation.

SOMINA will cover news events throughout Somalia, including Somaliland, as they happen. Its dispatches, in Somali and English, will be available free of charge on its website, and by email delivery to anyone who requests the service

Somalia has for some years been the deadliest country in Africa for the press. The Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab has had several radio station managers and other journalists murdered. Dozens of Somali journalists have had to flee the country after being threatened or physically attacked.

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