Military regimes have turned the Sahel into a 'black hole' of information

In the central Sahel, journalists and reporters have seen their working conditions deteriorate ever since they were taken over by military juntas, international organisations marking World Press Freedom Day on Friday have found.

Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have been turned into "information deserts", observers warned, following the suspension or closure of over a dozen media outlets – including RFI and France 24 – over the past three years.

The expulsion and non-issuance of visas or accreditation to foreign journalists – especially French journalists – is seen as a sign of the determination of these regimes to rid themselves from a free press, deemed incompatible with their principles.

Journalists are also ufaced with the threat of terrorist attacks.

According to a Reporters Without Borders report published in 2023, the intensification of attacks by armed groups has "continued to reduce the space for journalists to gather information and weaken the means of [news] circulation".

Community radio stations have been closed down or destroyed in the face of terrorist pressure and at least five journalists have been murdered in the region and half a dozen have gone missing since 2013.

For RSF, the Sahel has become one of the biggest black holes for information.

There are also many internal sources who help journalists to find out what is happening on the ground.

However, without access to the field, it is always more difficult to cross-check information.

Read more on RFI English

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