IOM, UN Mark World Press Freedom Day with Screening of Oscar-winning Ukraine War Film

Panel members at the IOM/UNIS screening of Oscar-winning Ukraine war film "20 Days in Mariupol" in Vienna yesterday. Photo: Erica Rivera/IOM 2024

Vienna - Diplomats, humanitarians, refugees, and members of the public joined IOM and the United National Information Services in Vienna last night (6 May) for a special screening of the Oscar-winning Ukraine war documentary “20 Days in Mariupol”.

It tells the story of the 20 days Ukrainian filmmaker and Associated Press Journalist Mstyslav Chernov spent with his colleagues in the besieged city of Mariupol in February-March 2022 in the first weeks of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Using his daily news dispatches and personal footage of his own country at war, it offers a vivid, harrowing account of civilians caught in the siege. It opens a window into reporting from a conflict zone, and the impact of such journalism around the world.

The screening was organized to mark World Press Freedom Day, dedicated to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression. IOM supports media development via its Global Migration Media Academy, educating journalists on how to report on migration, and providing data.

Amy Pope, Director General of IOM was in Ukraine last month, where she met President Zelenskyy, local authorities and communities, IOM staff and many people displaced by the war, and appealed for greater humanitarian and recovery support.

IOM was represented on the discussion panel that followed the event by Teuta Grazhdani, head of the Ukraine Support Office at IOM’s Regional Office in Vienna. Also speaking were Frane Maroević, Executive Director, International Press Institute (IPI), Teresa Ribeiro, Representative on Freedom of the Media, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Thomas Seifert, Journalist and Editor-in-Chief, “European Voices” Magazine.

All panelists underscored the vital need for strong journalism to chronicle suffering and abuse of human rights, to hold the perpetrators accountable, to put a human face on abstract numbers and to validate the human spirit. 

"I have never seen a people as strong as Ukrainians. They are all heroes," IOM's Teuta Grazhdani said. "Thanks to them and to our Ukrainian and international staff we can bring aid to the most vulnerable."

Recalling her recent visit to Ukraine with DG Pope, Ms Grazhdani noted that the accent was now on recovery, alongside humanitarian aid, on getting children back to school, on the economy, on jobs. "The media has an important role in covering and promoting this narrative too,” she said.

The panel was chaired by UNIS Director Martin Nesirky, former spokesperson to the United Nations Secretary General in New York.

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