This is bad news: Humanitarian news agency faces closure as UN funding comes to an end. Excerpt:
The world's first independent humanitarian news service, Irin, could face closure unless it can secure new funding.
Irin was founded after the 1994 Rwandan genocide and its aftermath exposed a paucity of humanitarian reporting. It has since reported on forgotten crises and neglected aspects of conflicts and humanitarian responses.
Irin operates under the umbrella of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha), which funds it. However, the arrangement is due to expire at the end of the year, when Ocha will wind down its support and Irin will no longer be part of the UN system.
The support it will subsequently receive from Ocha has not yet been made public. Kieran Dwyer, Ocha's communications director, said it was reviewing Irin's services. "The original 1995 model for Irin has served its purpose well," he said. "However, we are working in a significantly different online news and social media landscape now."
Reported attempts by Ocha to control Irin's output have created tension between the two organisations. In January, Foreign Policy reported that Ocha had ordered Irin to suspend its coverage of the Syria crisis. UN officials are understood to have been concerned that the reporting might complicate the already enormous task of delivering aid in Syria.
An independent feasibility study of Irin, seen by the Guardian, acknowledged that it was difficult for it to be independent while being part of the UN system. UN employees interviewed for the study cited "examples in the past of strained relationships with member countries and UN agencies when Irin articles were seen to cause problems for the UN operation".
I've relied on IRIN for years, and while I sometimes feel swamped by the sheer numbers of disaster reports from IRIN, the UN, and NGOs, better too much information than too little.