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Seven IFEX members urge authorities to address newsprint and ink shortage in Jaffna

(WAN/IFEX) - The following is a 26 January 2007 letter to the Sri Lankan prime minister, signed by seven IFEX members and other organisations:

26 January 2007

Dear Sir,

We the undersigned are writing to express our serious concern at the acute shortage of newsprint and printing ink in Jaffna.

According to reports, there has been no road connection between Colombo and Jaffna since the main A9 road was closed last year due to heavy fighting. The commissioner for essential services has so far refused to load newsprint and ink onto the few ships carrying supplies to Jaffna.

This has resulted in severe hardships for newspapers in Jaffna. According to reports, all three newspapers in the city now print only four pages and have been forced to reduce their print run. For example, before the shortage Uthayan, Jaffna's best-selling paper, used to print 12 pages and sell about 20,000 copies. It now prints 7,500 copies and will reportedly soon have to reduce content to two pages. According to reports, Uthayan may have to close in about one month if it does not receive supplies of newsprint and ink.

We respectfully remind you that there are no radio or TV stations in Jaffna and the only way people in the region are able to get news is through newspapers.

As you will be aware, access to information is a key element in ensuring stability, and the lack thereof may lead to exaggerated rumour replacing accountable journalism as the main source of news for the local population, thereby fuelling instability and violence. We respectfully call on you to do everything possible to enable the delivery of newsprint and ink to Jaffna so that the city's publications are able to carry out their vital activity of informing the public.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Members of the International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission

The International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission is comprised of international press freedom and media development organisations:

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
International Media Support (IMS)
International Press Institute (IPI)
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South Asia Press Commission (SAPC)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
World Association of Newspapers (WAN)
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC)

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

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