JANUARY 20, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) Minister of Information, Ramzi Jreige, on Tuesday inaugurated a workshop titled “Strengthening the capacity of the media in reducing the risk of natural disasters – Disasters through the lens of the media”, organized by the Disaster Risk Management Unit at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Grand Serail, in collaboration with the UNDP and the presence of the Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon, François Barras, and the representative of the UNDP resident coordinator in Lebanon, Edgar Shehab.
In his delivered word, Ambassador Barras confirmed that “Switzerland was Lebanon’s partner in several areas and has achieved a joint cooperation with several countries in the field of disaster prevention.”
He said: “We have cooperation projects with the Ministry of Education, Union of Tyre Municipalities, and the Lebanese Red Cross, all on the level of risk prevention and risk strategies that require joint action by several parties, including the government which sets the framework, and then the local and municipal councils, civil society, and citizens.”
Barras added that the media played a key role in stimulating public opinion on the challenges of disaster prevention and how to avoid them.
In his address, Minister Jreige said that the government and the media shared responsibility in the fight against natural disasters and reducing their risks.
“The media plays a major role in spreading preventive awareness by shining light on the dangers of natural disasters and on the areas that are most vulnerable to disaster by means of disseminating educational programs to warn of potential hazards,” the minister added.
Jreige stressed that mitigating the danger of natural disasters was a political matter.
“Preventive measures must be taken by the government because of its economic impact on the ground, and because of the environmental damage caused by these natural catastrophes.
The minister also stressed that the media must convince people not to give in to fate and take a courageous stance vis-à-vis disasters. Furthermore, he said that the media must evaluate the performance of governments in this regard.
According to the Minister, the media should not be satisfied by merely conveying news about disasters, but must work together to identify the causes that lead to these disasters.
The Minister went on to hope that the outcome of collaboration between competent authorities and between the media and civil society would push ministries to take the necessary preventive measures to reduce the damage of disasters.
Finally, Jreige referred to the man-made disasters that threaten the country including terrorism, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the vacancy of the Lebanese presidency.