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VOA Programming Weekly Highlights, June 8, 2023

VOA Africa Dialogue Contributes to Major Change in Somaliland

Following a VOA Somali service town hall about groundbreaking women in politics last year in the breakaway region of Somaliland, MP Abdulkadir Mohamed Hassan, a member of the House of Elders, said, “VOA, as an international radio station, told the world that the two houses of (the) Somaliland parliament do not have a single woman, which hurts the reputation of Somaliland's democracy.” At that time, Hassan urged the government to fill the first vacant seat with a woman. Last week, VOA Africa learned that Ms. Amina Farid was appointed in May as the first female MP of Somaliland.

Reactions to Mandarin’s 34th Tiananmen Anniversary Coverage: “Thanks, VOA... World Will Never Forget"

Audiences thanked VOA Mandarin for highlighting the anniversary of a massacre that Beijing wants erased from public memory. VOA Mandarin’s coverage, which spanned three continents and a dozen cities, included an hour-long TV special and a dedicated webpage featuring protests at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., a march by young Chinese activists in Boston and the opening of the June 4 Memorial Hall in New York. One Chinese student in Brooklyn told VOA he is pursuing a degree in politics after learning what happened on June 4, 1989.

VOA’s Exclusive Interviews with U.S. Lawmakers Drive News Agenda in Ukraine

VOA Ukrainian’s value-added coverage featuring exclusive comments by U.S. legislators generated wide interest, garnering 678K views on VOA Ukrainian’s website between June 1 and June 5. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), James Risch (R-ID), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John Ricketts (R-NE) spoke about the feasibility of bringing Russia to account for atrocities in Ukraine, Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine, and the strikes on Russian territory. The comments were shared by popular Ukrainian channel Realnaya Voyna and rebroadcast by Russian propagandist channel “Russia-1” in its prime-time show “60-minutes” with translation into Russian. "Russia-1" used the VOA Ukrainian report in conjunction with news reports from other reputable international news outlets such as CNN, EuroNews, and CNN International, perceivably to use Western media coverage as a reinforcement of their narratives about the seriousness of the situation while implying Ukraine’s responsibility for the attacks. The network aired an almost 1.5-minute segment of the VOA’s TV story, with a translation to Russian and with no video cuts. VOA logo was kept on screen for the duration of the video with VOA Ukrainian dubbed as a “foreign agent.”

Immigration Coverage Leads VOA Spanish Traffic for Sixth Straight Month

Florida's strict law targeting undocumented immigrants has raised concerns among undocumented immigrants within the state. A “Las Claves” series explainer, which provides a breakdown of the state law to address irregular immigration, attracted 182K+ social media views. Meanwhile, experts caution migrants against crossing the U.S. border by jumping the wall, an act that puts their lives at risk and could cause severe injuries and potential brain damage in children, as border authorities witness these incidents daily. This content added 28K+ views for a combined 210K+ total views for the week.

News Center’s Increased China Coverage Drives Web Traffic

The News Center's growing focus on China, in collaboration with VOA's language services, yielded five of the top 10 stories on from May 31 to June 6. The top two stories included reports on territorial disputes between China and the Philippines and an article on China's dominance in key military technologies, which was re-published by Other popular stories included a piece on the poaching of South Africa's succulent plants for the Chinese market, one about the semiconductor trade war, and a report on the alarming increase in aggressive Chinese military intercepts.

VOA Persian’s Special on Revolutionary Guard Engages Wide Audience

VOA Persian covered protests by Iranians in Canada and the EU and aired a special program on obstacles in placing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the terrorist list in Europe and Canada. Mahtab Vahidirad hosted with journalist Shahran Tabari and Belgian parliamentarian Darya Safai, who said: “should EU designate IRGC as terrorist, it would be a heavy economic blow.” Ardeshir Zarezadeh, a lawyer and human rights activist, said that the IRGC must be stopped from carrying out terrorist acts on a global scale. As a result of this coverage, audience engagement from May 28 to June 5 surpassed 511,440 on all digital platforms.

VOA Deewa Town Hall Meeting Raises Awareness about Polio Vaccination in Northwestern Pakistan

On June 4, VOA Deewa organized a town hall meeting on polio vaccination in Abbottabad that was attended by Pakistani government health officials, grassroot vaccine advocacy activists and representatives from UNICEF and WHO. “It’s a commendable effort on the part of VOA and would help create awareness at the local level,” community leader Zar Gul Khan told participants who gathered to help remove misperceptions about polio vaccines in northern Pakistan, where polio remains endemic. VOA efforts help raise awareness about the importance of vaccinating children against polio.