Two years ago today, amidst the ravages of Ebola in Guinea, three journalists and five others were killed by a mob in Womey village.
On the anniversary of the tragic event of September 16, 2014, the MFWA remembers the three murdered journalists: Facely Camara, a reporter with Radio Liberté FM in Womey, together with Molou Chérif and Sidiki Sidibé, a journalist and a technician respectively with a community radio station in Nzérékoré (about 50km from Womey). The three were killed while accompanying a team on an Ebola sensitisation campaign.
We also pay homage to the five other mission members, who included health professionals and a religious leader. These five were: Moriba Touré, Deputy Head of Administation of Womey; Dr Ibrahima Fernandez, Director of Health Services of N’Zérékoré; Dr Ibrahima Saliou Barry; Deputy Director General of the N’Zérékoré regional hospital; Pépé Kpogohomou; Director of the Womey Health Centre; and Moïse Mamy, a Pastor.
Instigated by rumours that the health team was in town to spread Ebola among the populace, some villagers attacked the team with stones, sticks and cutlasses. In the course of the mobbing, the villagers killed eight of the team members. Fortunately, other members of the team narrowly escaped, albeit with horrific injuries.
The MFWA remains saddened by the deaths of the journalists and the five others. Fortunately, the authorities in Guinea ensured justice for the victims by convicting 11 of the culprits on April 21, 2015. The perpetrators received life sentences for their crime.
We call on the media in Guinea to work with health professionals in order to sustain their Ebola prevention campaigns. The MFWA also urges all governments in West Africa to resource the media and collaborate to ensure during epidemics, journalists are equipped to spread accurate, trustworthy information to citizens. Finally, we reiterate our calls to media organisations as well as public and private institutions hosting media personnel to ensure their safety, especially while reporting on sensitive issues.