I covered the Arab Spring as a foreign producer for Channel 4 News, travelling out to Egypt as the protests against President Mubarak hit their peak in February 2011, then staying through the rollercoaster two weeks that culminated in his resignation. Following that it was a whirlwind of change and chaos, optimism and fear. From the failed uprising in Bahrain to the Libyan revolution. Since then I have returned many times to the region to cover the aftermath as a documentary maker, in particular the plight of the Syrian refugees uprooted by the devastation of their country. A small selection of those reports is below.
Arriving in Egypt to find Tahrir square taken over by protesters, grateful to see media here to witness their life and death struggle for the future of their country. Then the government fightback as they invaded the square and the street battles that followed. Days of tension before the final denouement as Mubarak finally accepted defeat and resigned. Cue incredible scenes of euphoria and celebration – barely an hour before we were due on air. International Editor Lindsey Hilsum found the words, cameraman Chris Hease the pictures, and I edited the piece that told the story of the day.
The battle for Misrata, Libya, was the most intense and bloody of the Libyan Revolution. Completely cut off and isolated, the only way in was by sea. Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson, cameraman Stuart Webb and I arrived days after the tragic deaths of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, two of the world’s most experienced war photographers, to a highly charged atmosphere. Artillery and rockets were falling on the city, widespread paranoia about gas attacks, the port was then bombarded and closed, as Alex Thomson explains.
The chaotic end of the Libyan conflict (well, until later). Again with Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson, and cameraman Stuart Webb, we arrived in Tripoli, Libya, as the anti Gaddafi rebel forces were engaged in their final battles with government forces. In an atmosphere of chaos and disintegration, we produced some of the most compelling TV I’ve been involved with.
A few years later I returned to the Middle East to make a documentary for Channel 4’s Unreported World. With reporter Giles Duley, we told the story of disabled Syrian refugees. In particular the vibrant, combative spirit of Aya, a four year old with spina bifida, who despite everything she has seen and gone through, has a will to live that keeps her family going. This film was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award 2015.