How Does Psychological Intervention Program Protect Journalists In Armed-Conflict Situations? – OpEd


Journalists are increasingly threatened and assassinated in conflict zones worldwide especially now in the Middle East, many cases of correspondents being harmed or murdered and uncountable cases of local journalists becoming the victim of targeted kidnapping and killings.

My eyes opened for the vastness and the pressing nature of the issues the most important problem, how we can protect journalists in armed-conflict situations by the psychological intervention.

The safety of journalists all over the world is facing extreme conditions and, as the example of the current situation in Syria exemplifies, the future of us all is at stake when journalists are being attacked.

Lina Chawaf Syrian journalist, Editor-in-Chief at Radio Rozana,said, at the beginning of the Syrian conflict, there were many foreign journalists reporting from Syria but the Assad regime as well as from the ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t want the correspondents to show the truth so that they made many forms of violence against journalists , at least 122 journalists have been killed covering the Syrian conflict.

Radio Rozana coverage in August 13, 2018 pro-President Bashar al-Assad forces, and Russian military they want to retake Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama provinces from Syrian opposition forces. This campaign has further complicated the situation of the 60 Syrian journalists who fled the southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra for northern Syria to escape the advancing Assad-aligned forces for fear of arrest and torture.

Journalists suffer from numerous acts of violence such as murder and torture, the worst forms of violence are physical violence and rape in prisons, where many men are raped more than women in Syria.

Lina was subjected to sexual harassment by the Syrian regime when she decided to escape the country this was a threat and intimidation, and she suffered from depression for a long time. She was at risk for exposure to work-related traumatic events. Further, she exposed to these events appear vulnerable and other psychiatric symptoms. This is particularly true of Syrian journalists covering drug-related conflict and war correspondents.
it’s our responsibility to fulfil an essential task in providing the public with information to collect this information so that the journalists should have to go to report the events from conflict zones.

Journalists in armed-conflict situations

The journalists who cover conflict and war are exposed to a host of stressors that can exert a deleterious effect on their emotional well-being. Intimidation, assault, mock execution and witnessing death and suffering are just some of the occupational hazards that come with the job.

The impartial media reports conveyed from conflict zones serve a fundamental public interest in the information era, images and news can have a decisive impact on the outcome of armed conflicts so that the main reason for violence against journalists is that political regimes do not want to give the information and pictures to the public.

The reporters are inevitably exposed to the dangers inherent in military operations. Instead of fleeing combat. Nevertheless, by far the greatest danger they face is that of deliberate acts of violence against them.

The hazards and psychological impact hazards can explain there are a growing number of crimes against journalists around the world, with more reporters being killed or imprisoned, and perpetrators enjoying full impunity. Many journalists are unable to return to their home countries out of fear of being jailed or killed.

These hazards have many negative effects for example the posttraumatic stress disorder in journalists who have worked for over a decade in zones of conflict.

As the dangers increase, so do the psychological sequelae, recent data obtained from Middle East journalists covering the Syrian civil war, an internecine conflict in which journalists have become targets, indicate a particularly high rate of depression relative to earlier wars.

In addition, we need a journalists to inform us about the world and about the atrocities that happen, but they need us to protect them in order to collect this information by psychological intervention. The danger lies not only in situations of hazardous bullets flying around and accidently harming war journalists. but the negative impact on them through trauma which exposed them.

Psychological Intervention Program for Journalists

Prof.Ahmed Gaber, Professor of Neurology Ain Shams University & Prof. Miral AlAshry developed a new approach about investigating the quality of the protection for journalists in armed conflict and will focus on the accomplishments and the deficits of psychological intervention protection journalists.

This Program is aimed to protect the journalists by psychological intervention to save them actions would ensure a more successful protection for journalists in armed conflict, through shifting the domain specificity of journalists from the relatively sedentary zone to a relatively conflict/war zone by gradual step wise exposure to escalating environments (virtual or real) with feedback reevaluation of them. Through the program we will maximum level of exposure the journalists according to (personal traits , tolerability and its behavior) across the levels.

Phase one: First, Personality evaluation the journalists using Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) that examines five personality traits (openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism). Through these traits we can have a rough idea about the vulnerability of the journalists to the program then through the conflict zone. Second, trauma screening questionnaire (TSQ): For screening for PTSD. This self reported assessment scale consists of 10 items, which cover one of the main signs of PTSD. Each item is answered with binary yes or no responses. Then, we can use the depression and anxiety scales is also suggested as a base line.

Phase two: first, defining and grading and scaling different conflicts, traumas and hazards and rearranging them to levels.

Second, rearranging levels of hazard and conflicts in ascending manner according to pilot study using biofeed back responses.

Third, after that we will rearranging levels of conflicts zone and war for example, the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27% in 2018 over the last year according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) report.

Syria remains the most dangerous country for the third successive year and has consistently ranked among the five most dangerous countries in the world since the start of its civil war in 2013.

Then the second country Afghanistan, the third South Sudan, the fourth Iraq and fifth Somalia are also ranked as some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

For the 10th successive year, Europe remained the most peaceful geographical region in the world. However, both Europe and North America became less peaceful overall. In Europe, 23 of 36 countries deteriorated. The United States (43rd) has declined for two consecutive years and is now at its most dangerous since 2012.

So that we should classified and prepare the journalists according to the levels arranged and dangerous country.

Phase four: Reality testing. Those who passed a certain level that is concordant with a reality zone of conflict can go there and work with periodic psychological evaluation of them in the field. (NEO PI-R) and TSQ should be done at the end for revaluation

Phase five: the journalists who passed reality testing can shift to higher level repeating phase 3 then 4 with higher exposure.

Phase six: psychological rehabilitation is needed for those who passed high levels and need to return to normal life.

Ahmed also emphasized the importance of giving the journalism an understanding of how therapy works and what will happen in the therapy session (including emotional regulation and processing emotionally intense traumatic material). He noted this program training therapists will be enough to ensure that the emotionally intense experiences of remembering or having flashbacks is titrated adequately. He also underlined the necessity for journalists to have plenty of time for processing these therapeutic experiences both in-session, and between sessions in order to anchor any changes that occur.

The journalists will becoming more knowledgeable about the effects of exposure to trauma and violence and we will save them from traumatic in the future through Psychological Intervention Program.

*Miral Sabry Al Ashry , Associate Professor at Future University (FUE), Political Mass Media Department

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry is Co-lead for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Centre for Freedom of the Media, the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield.

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