South Asia: Drugs, human trafficking and migration - an emerging concern for young journalists 

As a result of a partnership between UNODC and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) important media coverage has been given to UNODC mandated areas of work like human trafficking, migration and illicit drug activities in South Asian countries.

News reports such as "Nightmare Journey to Malaysia: One man's journey across one of the 'Deadliest Stretches of Water" showcase the human cost of illegal activities. The news article, which appeared in Bangla News 24 and multiple other websites, recounted how hundreds of Bangladeshi have died crossing the Bay of Bengal after being recruited by traffickers. Another, "Increasing Opium Use Rips The Social Fabric In Chitral" chronicles the story of women addicts in a remote mountainous region in Pakistan.

The partnership began in 2013, when Lucinda Fleeson, training director for a program at ICFJ based in Washington, D.C., approached the UNODC Regional Office for South Asia to seek an expert to participate in a course, entitled "Youth at Risk in South Asia." Cristina Albertin, Representative, UNODC South Asia helped develop teaching material for the six-week on-line course. She also answered questions posted by participating journalists, then attended and presented at an in-person conference in Kathmandu, Nepal for 25 of the best participants.

In 2014, UNODC and ICFJ agreed again to work together. This time the focus differed, in a course entitled: 'Roadblocks Along the New Silk Road: A Multimedia Training Program to Tell the Stories of Youth, Women And Migration in South Asia." The program brought together journalists between the ages of 21 - 30 years from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

The 2014 course also explored investigative journalism and responsible reporting in the digital age. In Kathmandu, journalists were given iPod Touches to learn how to shoot and edit video reports in the field. 

Through the online course, UNODC staff interacted with the participants on drug trafficking, human trafficking and migration in the region and beyond. The one-week classroom workshop in Nepal was complemented by a site-visit to a drop-in-centre for drug users supported by UNODC. The visit allowed participants to interact and interview with both drug users and service providers.

"Because of the involvement of UNODC, the young journalists had access to high-level experts they normally would not have," said Fleeson. "They also got the latest statistics, using reference to tools and publications developed by UNODC."

Again in 2014, the 25 participants produced in-depth stories for their own media outlets, as well as others. Global reach for stories expanded with placement on the Women's Refugee Commission and Huffington Post websites.

"UNODC constantly builds partnerships to better analyse, understand and address the needs of the region and work closely with stakeholders to deal with them," said Cristina Albertin. "Media and journalists are key stakeholders who analyse and investigate issues and in turn project them to the wider public. It is critical for UNODC to engage with journalists so they can use the best facts and figures to substantiate their stories about drug use, spread of HIV, drug trafficking, human trafficking, corruption and terrorism."

The International Center for Journalists is dedicated to advancing quality journalism worldwide. Over the past 30 years, ICFJ has worked with more than 80,000 professional and citizen journalists and media managers from 180 countries. Its hands-on programs combine the best professional practices with new technologies to foster responsible journalism that empowers citizens and holds governments accountable.

UNODC is very pleased to present a sampling of stories produced by IFCJ course participants which published in the region: 

Nightmare Journey to Malaysia: One man's nightmare journey across one of the 'Deadliest Stretches of Water

Migrant women workers are doubly vulnerable 

Increasing Opium Use Rips The Social Fabric In Chitral 

Inside Afghanistan's Pol e Charkhi prison: Misery of inmates arrested for drug smuggling   



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within the following articles are the personal opinions of the authors. UNODC is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on these articles. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the articles do not reflect the views of UNODC and UNODC does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.