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Aissatou Barry, a young female guinean journalist, reporting in Agadez during the regional training organized by Fondation Hirondelle in August 2018. ©Fondation Hirondelle Aissatou Barry, a young female guinean journalist, reporting in Agadez during the regional training organized by Fondation Hirondelle in August 2018.

Migrations: West African journalists reporting from Agadez

Fondation Hirondelle gathered journalists from Mali, Niger and Guinea in Niamey for a regional training in August. Together they produced stories on the situation of migrants in Agadez. A rewarding experience, according to Aissatou Barry, a young female Guinean journalist.

You have just traveled to Niger to participate in a regional training organized by Fondation Hirondelle. You have in this context made reports in Agadez with other journalists working in Mali or Niger. How did this experience take place and what did it bring you professionally and personally?
For me it was an incredible human odyssey. I worked a lot on migration issues in Guinea and with this adventure I realized that it's not the same, that there was a lot of misunderstanding. Going to the heart of the Agadez migration hub, to see and discuss with hundreds of young returnees disappointed and shattered by the atrocities of the desert, to live with them daily in the transit center was a powerful professional and personal experience. Being at the heart of the action is a big "plus" for me and my professional career. I have a very different view on migration from now on. Personally, to hear all these different testimonies made me sad for these young persons because they come home marked for life.
Which topics and angles did you choose for your reports? Why these choices, and how do they meet the expectations of the people in Guinea?
The idea of ​​the magazine for me was to talk about the human aspect of migration, so the main actors can only be migrants. I crossed the experiences and the testimonies. In my interviews I understood that each migrant had a particular story compared to the other. Thus during the editing of the audio magazines I made 4 different contents for 4 languages ​​(French, Soussou, Maninka, Poular). In recent years the IOM (International Organization of Migrations) transit center in Agadez has welcomed more Guinean migrants than any other nationalities. Listening to testimonies of young Guineans in national languages ​​is one element of the response to this phenomenon. Because these young Guineans are telling waht they have suffered from in the desert. The young candidates for migration will thus know in a local language what happens in the desert. It's a human adventure that these magazines tell.

What is the current situation of the media landscape in Guinea? What are your challenges as a journalist in your country?
We face training challenges. Our corporation is composed of people who have not done a school of journalism so there are a lot of mistakes that are done all day long on the air. Even though there are more and more training sessions for journalists organized by NGOs in order to improve their knowledge, for example for the electoral coverage and especially on the notions of the social responsibility of the journalist.

What is the point of developing regional exchanges between African journalists? Should these exchanges be more regular in your opinion and respond to real information needs at the regional level for the populations of the countries concerned?
For me to develop these exchanges between African journalists will create a real synergy on common topics such as migration or climate change. And this synergy will obviously respond to regional information needs that will allow people to have a global and in-depth understanding of the issues. It would therefore be necessary and important to develop this type of exchange as much as possible.