INTEGRATED REGIONAL INFORMATION NETWORK (IRIN)
“The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) is an independent humanitarian news service covering sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. IRIN’s principle role is to supply nonpartisan, relevant information to a diverse group of humanitarian actors, decision-makers in governments, vulnerable populations, and local and international media to promote better understanding of longstanding crises and new emergencies.” (IRIN Global Funding Document 2007, p. 3, http://www.irinnews.org/pdf/IRIN-2007-Appeal.pdf, accessed on 14 May 2008)
“Based in Nairobi, Kenya, IRIN was founded in 1995 to improve the flow of vital information to those involved in relief efforts in the Great Lakes region following the 1994 Rwandan genocide.” (IRIN Website, http://www.irinnews.org/about.aspx#abo, accessed on 14 May 2008)
Humanitarian actors, decision-makers in governments, vulnerable populations, local and international media.
IRIN publications target decision-makers in relief agencies, governments, human-rights organisations, humanitarian advocacy groups, academic institutions and local and international media, and affected communities (IRIN Website, http://www.irinnews.org/about.aspx#abo, accessed on 14 May 2008).
IRIN produces “daily, weekly and special reports on events and issues of concern to the humanitarian community”, which are made accessible via the web and e-mail (IRIN Global Funding Document 2007, p. 4, http://www.irinnews.org/pdf/IRIN-2007-Appeal.pdf, accessed on 4 June 2008).
Additionally, the IRIN Analysis Unit produces in-depth reports on selected key thematic issues. The website also includes country profiles on the countries covered by IRIN which contain figures, basic facts, and brief information on a variety of issues (including peace and security, IDPs/refugees, health, gender issues and human rights). Furthermore, IRIN runs PlusNews, a specialist news service on HIV/AIDS-related issues based in Johannesburg (IRIN Website, http://www.irinnews.org/about.aspx#na, accessed on 15 May 2008).
Through dissemination of information, IRIN specifically seeks to:
“1. Strengthen access to timely, accurate and balanced information
2. Enhance the capacity of the global and humanitarian community to understand, prepare for, respond to and avert emergencies
3. Assist local communities to participate in making decisions about their own lives
4. Support OCHA in its efforts to advocate for the rights of people in need
“IRIN is largely funded by direct, voluntary contributions from donor governments.” The network currently lists the following countries/organisations as key donors (contributing in average more than $ 250,000 per year): Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (IRIN Website, http://www.irinnews.org/donors.aspx, accessed on 15 May 2008).
Scope of reporting:
Thematic focus: Aid policy, avian flu, children, conflict, early warning, economy, education, environment, food security, gender issues, governance, health and nutrition, HIV/AIDS, human rights, migration, natural disasters, refugees/IDPs, urban risk, water and sanitation.
In its reporting, IRIN seeks to provide “sustained and complete coverage of crises by focusing on the plight of civilians”. Thus IRIN states that it “provides a daily flow of non operational but relevant information to the wider humanitarian community on a broad range of issues, countries and events.” (IRIN Global Funding Document 2007, p. 3, http://www.irinnews.org/pdf/IRIN-2007-Appeal.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008)
IRIN seeks to ensure that “writers are based in and report directly from the field” (OCHA: OCHA in 2007. Coordination Activities in the Field, http://ochaonline.un.org/ocha2007/chap5_1.htm, accessed on 3 June 2008). IRIN’s “reporting is underpinned by rigorous editorial standards. Strict controls are employed to ensure that its reports are accurate, fair, carefully sourced and rich in perspective.” Thus the network maintains “regional desks in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Dakar and Dubai […] staffed by experienced journalists, who travel frequently within the countries they cover to report directly” from the site of concern. Their reporting is “supplemented by news reports and features from a wider network of staff in sub-offices and freelance correspondents in the field […]”, providing IRIN with “a permanent presence on the ground”, even in areas of substantial insecurity (IRIN Website, http://www.irinnews.org/about.aspx, accessed on 19 May 2008).
IRIN's In-depth reports, which contain detailed analysis on selected humanitarian issues, are produced by “IRIN journalists and specialised consultants” in the framework of the IRIN Analytical Unit. The information presented is drawn from “experiences of those affected by crises, historical inquiry and independent investigations” (IRIN Website, http://www.irinnews.org/in-depth.aspx, accessed on 15 May 2008).
IRIN reports are published either on a daily or weekly basis (“weekly reports”). Six to eight in-depth reports are published each year.
Navigation of website:
The left-hand menu bar on the homepage provides access to reports by region (Africa, Asia, Middle East)/countries, type of report (weekly report, in-depth report), to country profiles as well as to reports by theme.
The Advanced Search function gives access to the IRIN archives where reports published since 1998 can be searched by keywords, service, type of report, country, theme, region, and date.