Working in Conflict Zones
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 12th November, 2015
The EBRD has run a stimulating cultural programme over the last few days, but this evening there was a real novelty, in cooperation with One World Media: a panel discussion on the reality for journalists and NGO workers operating in conflict zones. Things have changed dramatically since I was a cub reporter in the Vietnam War; it never crossed my mind to wear a flak jacket then, but journalists were not a target then in the way that they have been really since the break-up of Yugoslavia. My former BBC colleague, and now Head of Communications at EBRD, Jonathan Charles, who chaired this evening’s event, had some hairy stories of his own, but the focus was rightly on the four panelists. ITV camerman Toby Nash gave moving testimony of evacuating Yazidi refugees from Mount Sinjar in Iraq, while Natalie Roberts, a doctor with Médecins sans Frontieres, drew on her experience in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere to show how both governments and foreign military forces deliberately target hospitals and other humanitarian centres. Harper McConnell is senior Director of the Eastern Congo Initiative and spoke of how to engage with people in conflict situations, while Soraya Narfeldt from RA International made the valuable point that in conflict situations good people sometimes do bad things and evil people can show extraordinary humanity. She also felt that politicians are far removed from the reality on the ground. Altogether a very stimulating panel and evening.