THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in partnership with the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), launched its first journalism award to recognize stories or articles that best illustrate the humanitarian consequences of armed conflicts.

The competition dubbed "Red Cross Awards for Humanitarian Reporting 2011" is open to all print/online, television, and radio journalists who have published or aired insightful news reports, features or documentaries on the armed conflict situation in the Philippines.

"Apart from celebrating the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Day just this Thursday, we are launching this competition that will honor journalists who serve as the voice of civilians affected by the clashes of armed conflict," said Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC communication coordinator, in Thursday’s Kapihan sa PIA media forum.

"We hope this award will generate more interest in humanitarian reporting, and stir more journalists in tackling the many serious issues that surround the armed-conflict situation in the Philippines," said Alexander Rosete, PRC officer-in-charge of communication.

Deadline for nominations is on March 12, 2011. In collecting stories nationwide, 32 will be chosen as finalists. Out of 32 finalists, the judges will select the awardees whose names will be announced during the Red Cross Day on May 8, 2011.

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Winner of the competition will be given various prizes including plaques, digital recorders, books, and the chance to receive trainings on IHL and conflict reporting.

Entries for the contest, which should highlight the consequences of armed conflict, must be sent to one of the following Pace member-schools: Central Luzon State University in Mun~oz, Nueva Ecija (Northern/Central Luzon), St. Scholastica's College Manila (NCR/Southern Luzon), Cebu Technological University in Cebu City (Visayas); Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City (Mindanao).

The ICRC on Thursday also conducted a seminar on reporting on armed conflict at the Apo View Hotel. This was attended by 30 journalists base in Davao Region.

The ICRC is an independent humanitarian organization that aims to protect and assist victims of armed conflicts, without discrimination. In the Philippines, it coordinates with the PRC, its operation partner, in providing help to those affected by situations of violence.

In support of the project is the International News Safety Institute (Insi), Peace and Conflict Journalism Network-Philippines (Pecojon Phils.), Philippine Association of Communication Educators (Pace) and Rotary Club of Manila (RCM). All six organizations will be represented in the judging panels for the three categories.

Partner organization is represented by Victor Redmond Batario, Insi consultant for Asia-Pacific; Charlie Saceda, Pecojon Philippines project head; Flordeliz Abanto, Pace president; and former Press Secretary Rod Reyer, journalism awards chair of Rotary Club of Manila. (JCZ)