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A call for support for our Central African colleagues at Radio Ndeke Luka

Dear colleagues, friends, and friends of the Central African Republic and Radio Ndeke Luka,

Radio Ndeke Luka has fought for thirteen years to meet one of the primary needs of the people of the Central African Republic: a quality public news and information service that is independent and open to all sectors of society, a need that is not being met by any other provider. The Central African people are loyal to the radio because of its content but, more importantly, because it is the only news service that has the courage to give ordinary people a voice, that serves as the population’s mouthpiece, giving the people their dignity, the right to exist and the right to be heard.

It is this support and trust that has put Radio Ndeke Luka in an extremely delicate security situation. Since 2000 several different strongmen have come to power in the Central African Republic and they have consistently harassed and threatened the existence of the radio and the safety of its staff. During the latest episode on March 23, 2013, the presidential guard of François Bozizé, president at the time, made death threats following a radio broadcast, accusing the radio of being pro-Seleka (the alliance of rebels fighting his regime). On March 24 Seleka took the capital and Bozizé fled. Members of the rebel alliance raided Radio Ndeke Luka’s offices; several journalists received death threats. It is believed by some that members of the new political order considered destroying the radio before changing their minds.

Radio Ndeke Luka was back on air two days after the 24th of March coup, broadcasting in the midst of civil war in a city ravaged by looting.

While security has improved somewhat, the toll of the violence is heavy. The country is devastated. Public administration, health services, schools, NGOs have all curtailed or stopped their normal activities. While the international community largely ignores the situation, the new regime is plagued by infighting and the state coffers are empty.

The recent crisis has not spared the radio’s staff. Houses have been looted or expropriated, motorcycles have been stolen. The rapid rise in prices has affected households and the price of basic health care has gone up. Most of the radio’s regional correspondents had to hide in the bush for weeks. These recent incidents have only added to the struggle to access routine health care, difficult for Central Africans in the best of times.

The staff at the radio has tried to help those colleagues most affected but they have reached the limit of their capacity.

Can others take up this burden? We have taken the liberty of asking you, our colleagues and friends. We would like to create a solidarity fund to meet the urgent needs of those radio staff most affected. The fund will be managed locally. The Representative of Fondation Hirondelle, in collaboration with the Central African Director of the radio and the board of Fondation Ndeke Luka (our local Central African partner) will select the fund’s beneficiaries. All the funds raised will be distributed to local staff in need.

We hope you will respond to this call to aid our colleagues and friends. In order to pursue this, we plan to create an organization called the “Friends of Radio Ndeke Luka.” This organization will aim to support the radio in the medium term. “Friends of Radio Ndeke Luka” can, voluntarily, support the radio financially or through contributions in kind. We will keep you informed as to the creation of the organization.

For the moment, we would like to thank you in advance for your generosity and solidarity for our Central African colleagues which will help them feel supported and help them overcome their family emergencies.

Sincerely,

Sylvie Panika, Director of Radio Ndeke Luka

Jean-Marie Etter, Director-General of Fondation Hirondelle

You can make a donation by using the following accounts, noting « Solidarité Centrafrique » :
By check or PayPal to Hirondelle USA
or
Crédit Suisse, BIC/Swift : CRESCHZZ80A ; Clearing : 4835 ; Compte : 418522-81-1;
IBAN: CH16 0483 5041 8522 8100 1
or
CCP, BIC/Swift : POFICHBEXXX; N. compte: 10-16329-8 ;
IBAN : CH98 0900 0000 1001 6329 8