LONDON: Reporters without Borders announced on Friday it would be launching a press freedom body in Lviv, Ukraine, with its local partner the Institute for Mass Information, that would provide training and protective gear for journalists working under life-threatening conditions in the war-ravaged nation.
The Lviv Press Freedom Center would urgently seek aid to purchase bulletproof vests and helmets, which are currently in short supply.
It also aims to provide resources to journalists seeking financial or psychological help and will launch an accompanying digital portal to channel requests and evaluate needs.
The center will be located within the International Media Center, a facility created by the Lviv city council where foreign journalists can work with a stable internet connection, live-streaming capacity and access to a shelter in the event of an attack.
“RSF has accompanied Ukrainian journalists and international reporters in danger from the very start,” said the body’s Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.
“Their needs are immense and include first-aid kits, humanitarian assistance, protective equipment and media funding. We call on international donors and media outlets to contact us to help provide the funds and equipment that will be needed in the coming days,” said Deloire.
The announcement comes after numerous journalists covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine were shot or attacked for their reporting.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that since late February, Russian troops have injured at least three journalists from international outlets, and at least one reporter for a Ukrainian outlet has been attacked.
On Feb. 28, Russian troops shot Sky News chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay in the lower back, as well as camera operator Richie Mockler, who was hit twice in his body armor. Similarly, on March 6, Russian soldiers shot at and robbed freelance Swiss journalist Guillaume Briquet near the village of Vodyano-Lorino, in southern Ukraine.
A day earlier, heavy Russian shelling trapped Adnan Can and Habib Demirci, two journalists for Al-Araby TV, with a group of civilians near Irpin, in Kyiv.
Since the invasion, Russian authorities have stepped up their crackdown on journalists and media outlets, in Moscow’s effort to control the narrative on the war.