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UNAMID radio starts broadcasting in Darfur

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July 3, 2011 (KHARTOUM) — A radio station run bu the joint African Union - UN mission in Darfur finally took to the airwaves iof Sudan’s restive western region on Sunday after years of wrangling with the Khartoum government, which seeks control media programmes there.

Titled Yala Nabni Darfur (Let’s Build Darfur), the new radio will broadcast alongside local radio stations, the US based Afia Darfur Radio and the Netherlands based Radio Dabanga which broadcast on the short waves.

While the local radio are perceived as propaganda radio by the rebel groups because they seek to advocate the government policy, Afia and Dabanga, which are banned from having local reporters, seek to be liberal tribunes opening their programmes to the rebels groups and report human rights abuses in the region.

The UNAMID radio "will feature a unique perspective into the lives of the region’s people and present the latest on UNAMID’s activities and its mandate in helping to achieve peace," said the joint peacekeeping operation in Darfur.

The "Radio programmes are within the framework of UNAMID mandate of achieving peace in Darfur and mainly are features of discussions, interviews and cultural programmes," stated Said Musa, head of UNMAID Radio Unit when asked by Sudan Tribune about Yala Nabni Darfur.

The two-hour radio daily programmes will be broadcasted on the frequency of the government owned Al-Salaam Radio for one hour at 8:30 am and the second time at 2pm local time in line with a cooperation protocol signed last June.

The hybrid mission and the National Public Radio Corporation (NPRC) reached on 26 June an interim agreement to air UNAMID programmes on Al Salaam Radio and Darfur state radio stations.

The peacekeeping mission said the use of public radios will last untill "the Government of the Sudan reviews the Mission’s application for a radio broadcasting license, in conformity with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the Mission and the Government of the Sudan."

Seen as most important medium for information in the region due to the poor circulation of newspapers, illiteracy and lack of infrastructures as well as the current violence, Sudanese government is very reluctant to give the green light to the UNAMID to broadcast its programmes.

Talks on the radio license started in 2009. However it is not clear when the UN largest peacekeeping mission will get it.

(ST)

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