« Back to all News

GFMD Regional MENA Meeting: A Call to Action for Media Support

GFMD convened 80 members, partners, policymakers, and donors working in the Middle East and North Africa on November 30 in Amman, Jordan.

Author: Communications Gfmd | 31. January 2024

Held in conjunction with the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism Annual Forum, this regional meeting focused on the immediate impact of the Israel-Gaza war on journalists and media outlets, but also addressed how the GFMD can rise to broader challenges facing independent journalism and the information environment.

Gaza emergency response

The meeting began with a stark assessment of the devastating effects of the conflict on Palestinian media. Participants, primarily from the region with an additional 18 online attendees, shared accounts of unprecedented challenges and violations, including targeted attacks on journalists, destruction of media infrastructure, and a lack of essential resources like salaries, equipment, and safe working spaces.

GFMD Regional MENA meeting

GFMD Regional MENA meeting

Mental health concerns among journalists facing trauma were also highlighted. Participants voiced frustration over the perceived lack of international attention to the suffering in Gaza, the absence of clear identification and support for the victims, and the existence of double standards when addressing the situation in Gaza compared to other conflicts, such as Ukraine.

“Faith in the principles of journalism was profoundly shaken by the events in Gaza. Despite the support extended by various organisations, for which we are grateful, to journalists in general and Palestinians in particular, it is disheartening to observe that certain press entities, particularly those from northern countries and foreign organisations that arrived in the Arab world purportedly to teach us knowledge about freedom of the press and ethical practices, have betrayed and abandoned these values,” expressed a Leader of a media organisation

Learning from recent MENA needs assessment

Participants emphasised the critical need for improved support for independent media institutions and journalists facing threats due to insufficient funding, exclusionary policies, and the absence of media cooperatives fostering resilience. The lack of recognition for journalists, particularly those exposing corruption, was also raised. To learn more please read the meeting briefing here.

Principles for Effective Media Assistance

Nick Benequista, Senior Director of the Centre for International Media Assistance (CIMA), gave an overview of the OECD DAC’s consultation on Draft Principles for Relevant and Effective Support to Media and the Information Environment.

Developed by the OECD with support from GFMD and CIMA, these principles aim to guide Overseas Development Aid in addressing challenges to public interest media and information environments.

Discussions centred on trust, inclusivity in needs assessments, and the relationship between donors and civil society institutions. Participants stressed the need for a clear commitment to these principles, urging a shift in positioning and consideration of the lives invested in media development projects. Examples of how international actors could more effectively operate in the region included greater accountability and transparency, as well as support for whistle-blowers and conflict resolution processes.

Frustration at selective funding withdrawal to media and media support organisations after the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel were also expressed. One participant who works for a media organisation in the region sarcastically commented:

“We received a great email from one of our donors that basically in three lines ended the partnership that was supposed to be a long term partnership. Saying that they have been disappointed by [name withheld]’s coverage of the war in Gaza. And that the word settlement and settlers have been used indiscriminately.”

Such practices are severely damaging relationships between international donors and media and civil society.

Collaboration between the media support community

GFMD’s efforts to enhance collaboration among members were presented during the discussion, focusing on their global charter and principles.

Recommendations for donors and implementing agencies included ensuring the complementarity of projects, minimising administrative burdens, promoting partnerships, and transparent fund usage. The importance of local leadership, flexibility, and being attuned to ground needs was emphasised.

The GFMD’s Regional MENA meeting yielded several significant outcomes:

  • Funding and emergency resources for Gaza: ARIJ is collaborating with the Committee to Protect Journalists and Palestinian partners to provide direct assistance to Palestinian journalists through crowdfunding and other funding sources.
  • Mapping funding and crisis resources: A comprehensive mapping sheet detailing emergency funding and crisis resources for journalists in the region was created to optimise support and avoid duplication.
  • Improved regional communication and verification: Dedicated email lists for the MENA region and Palestine, and a compiled list of trustworthy Palestinian news organisations were established to facilitate information sharing and joint action, including addressing social media censorship concerns.

The GFMD Regional MENA meeting highlighted the urgent need for collective action to address the multifaceted challenges faced by media in the MENA region.

The full report from the meeting is available here.

If you are interested in working with GFMD on any of the issues raised, please contact us at helpdesk-impact@gfmd.info. If you are working in the Middle East and North Africa please visit this page to learn more about how to become a member of GFMD. We also invite you to subscribe to our mailing list for members (and partners) of the GFMD based in or working in the Middle East and North Africa / West Asia and North Africa.


You are using an outdated browser which can not show modern web content.

We suggest you download Chrome or Firefox.