Press NGOs urge ‘safe passage for media workers’ in Aleppo
ALEPPO - Press freedom groups called Tuesday for safe passage for media workers trapped inside a small remaining pocket of rebel territory in Syria's east Aleppo as the army advances.
Lebanon's SKeyes Centre, the London-based Rory Peck Trust and 18 other press NGOs urged all parties to ensure "steps are taken to safeguard the lives of media workers living and working in Aleppo and those media workers choosing to leave the city".
They called for the "safe passage of media workers" and "respect for the work and the physical integrity of media personnel", noting they are protected under international law.
Syria's army has taken more than 90 percent of east Aleppo from rebels since launching a military operation nearly one month ago.
Tens of thousands of people have fled rebel neighbourhoods as the government has advanced, but many civilians, including medics and media activists, fear arrest if they cross to regime territory.
"Names and identities of Aleppo's media workers are known to international media assistance and press freedom organisations and any harm to their personal safety will be considered a breach of international conventions put in place to ensure the safety of journalists and must be independently investigated," the NGOs wrote.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders says Syria is the world's deadliest country for journalists.
In June, it said at least 51 professional and 144 non-professional journalists had been killed in the country since the start of the conflict in 2011.
A further 50 are either detained in government jails, held hostage by the Islamic State group or other extremist armed groups, or have simply disappeared.