Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Journalists expose themselves to great risks bringing the news from a war zone. To help local journalists and fixers protect themselves while covering the offensive against ISIS in Mosul, War Zone Freelance Project (WZF) organised two medical safety training courses in Erbil, Iraq in partnership with Free Press Unlimited and the Rory Peck Trust. Local freelance journalists and fixers* were trained in combat medical safety and battlefield awareness education preparing them to save lives at the frontlines.

The Mosul offensive is the largest military intervention against ISIS during their presence in Iraq. The front lines are unpredictable and the risk for journalists covering the offensive are enormous. The battle is covered by hundreds of Iraqi journalists and most of them have never received any security training nor protective equipment. Three journalists have lost their lives and more than ten have been injured during the first twelve days, according to the Rory Peck Trust.

Emergency medical assistance

During each two-day training, approximately fifteen journalists were trained in emergency medical assistance in the field, battlefield awareness as well as risk assessment, wounds caused by improvised explosive devices (IED's) and chemical weapons safety. After completing the course all trainees were provided with medical kits (IFAK) and got the opportunity to purchase a gas mask.

Medical safety training for journalists in IraqMedical Safety training for journalists in Iraq





Training freelance journalists

“We know that many freelancers, both locals and internationals, go to the front lines without proper combat medical training or equipment", says Osie Greenway, Director of War Zone Freelance Project. “Medical safety training is often too expensive and hard to access for freelancers. By organising training courses such as these in Erbil we can help equip freelancers for the dangers they face in their work environment.”

Medical Safety Training journalists IraqMedical Safety Training journalist Iraq





More confidence after the training

"The training provided by WZF was really useful, and I feel I can now handle myself a lot better in adverse conditions than before.” says German freelance journalist Florian Neuhof after completing the training in October. “You go into a war zone with a lot more confidence when you know you can patch up yourself and others. The course crammed in as much information as was possible in two days, and smartly focused on the essentials."

Safety of journalists

Boris van Westering, head MENA/Eurasia at Free Press Unlimited, explains why this important initiative of the War Zone Freelance Project is supported by Free Press Unlimited: “Iraq and especially the Mosul region is by far one of the most dangerous places on earth for journalists. With the start of the military offensive against ISIS, we need to address journalist safety in Iraq and provide local journalists practical knowledge how to report safely from a battleground.”

*A fixer is someone, often a local journalist, hired by a foreign correspondent to help arrange a story. 

Photos by Juan Carlos and Quentin Bruno