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South Sudan

Hello all, it’s been a while since I last posted but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy….far from it..!

In the last few months I’ve been in Argentina, Bolivia, Kenya, South Sudan, Dubai, London and Jersey shooting, filming and being a guest speaker at a Rotary Peace and Conflict Resolution Conference. I’ll be posting more on each subject over the next few weeks so first I’ll start with an assignment to South Sudan earlier this month to report on the water situation there for Cafod.

It was a real privilege to report from the world’s newest nation and despite the huge challenges it faces there was an undeniable air of optimism. The pictures and video below were featured in the Manchester Evening News last week and will also be published in various other news media. (The video is found about half way down the article.)

This was an awareness and fundraising campaign for Cafod and their work in South Sudan and other countries and what makes this years campaign particularly important is that the UK Government aid scheme (DFID) will match any funds raised pound for pound. Donations can be made here.

The Republic South Sudan gained Independence on 9th July 2011 following decades of civil war. An estimated two million people were killed in the fighting between Northern forces and the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). A further four million were displaced after being forced to flee the fighting. South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world with almost all of it’s infrastructure destroyed during the war. With an illiteracy rate of 92% and a lack of basic health care, clean water and food it faces many challengers.

Below are a small selection of the images and the campaign video that I shot. Produced by Potential Productions.

 

Community members walk past an old tank in St Peters, Mundri. Mundri has seen over 12,000 returnees since 2008 with many settling back into the community of St Peters.

Five months pregnant Elizabeth Eidngo (30) from St Cecilia who has 3 boys and 2 girls filling up jerry cans of fresh clean water from the Cafod borehole. Each family is allowed to collect 5/6 jerrycans of water or 100 litres a day which is used for drinking, cooking and washing.

The only access to water before boreholes were drilled were unclean shallow wells which caused serious health issues amongst the most vulnerable in the community. The community of St Cecilia in Yei is home to over 400 households or approx. 3.000 people. In Dec 2011 the communities first borehole was fitted by Cafod supplying them with fresh clean water for the first time.

Mundri Bridge that runs over a tributary of the River Nile. Water collectors filling their jerry cans to sell around the town. For many, this is their only source of water.

Community members filling up jerry cans from the Cafod borehole. Due to the long queues they can spend up to two hours filling the cans.

Mercy (12) from St Cecilia in Yei filling up jerry cans of fresh clean water from the Cafod borehole. The cans can weigh up to 25kg.

Rose Anite (46) who has 8 children from Mbalago on the outskirts of Yei at her home washing up after filling jerry cans from the Cafod borehole.

General view of Juba city. Most of the countries infrastructure was destroyed during the war. There are only 75km of paved road in South Sudan which is the size of France.

Children burning rubbish in Hei Malakal in Mundri. The country has been left with a staggering 92% illiteracy rate due to the conflict.

Oliver Sebit (75) with his wife Zerifa Sebit (65) in Hei Malakal in Mundri pictured with all their possessions. They fled here in 1993 for Khartoum and just returned in December 2011. They have to sell something of theirs each day to pay for food.

Oliver Sebit (75) with his wife Zerifa Sebit (65) in Hei Malakal in Mundri. They fled here in 1993 for Khartoum and just returned in December 2011. They often sleep outdoors when it is to hot. They have no other family to look after them so the local church gave them an outhouse to sleep in.

Elizabeth Emba (31) lives with her 13 family members in a small tukle in Hei Malakal in Mundri. She and her family returned from Khartoum in September 2011 following the countries independence in July 2011.

Alice Silvano (40) arrived back to St Peters in Mundri with her family from Khartoum in January 2012. She arrived with only a bag of maize to live on. She has two boys Silvan (4) and Elmas (8). Pictured outside her temporary home holding all her possessions. Her husband died and she now lives with his brother. She is awaiting for the government to provide land so she can build and grow her own crops. There are over 1 million people on the border awaiting resettlement.

 

CHOGM 2011-Perth, WA

Some images taken today during a protest in Perth during The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or CHOGM 2011 that is being hosted by Perth in Western Australia this week. A very heavy security operation has been in place with over 3,000 officers from all over Australia deployed. Over a 1000 protesters marched peacefully through the centre of Perth under tight security. The CHOGM Action Network was represented by a variety of causes from refugee rights, anti-corporate greed, Occupy Perth, climate change and human rights issues in commonwealth countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bangladesh Images

Following on from the Sweet Water documentary here are some of the still images used in the A Just Climate campaign.

A Just Climate

People walk along a raised road in Gabura surrounded by damaged houses, dying trees and saline fields. Gabura was badly affected by Cyclone Aila that struck on May 25th 2009. Villagers were washed away by a tidal surge leaving many people homeless and their fields saline and unusable to grow crops. People survive by day labour or fishing and crabbing. Caritas provided 600 homes, rebuilt roads and fresh water supplies.

People from Gabura on the embankments they fled to and have been living on since Cyclone Aila.

Noren Sardar (67) who is married to Shita Dashi with 3 daughters and 2 sons from the fishing village of Jelepara. Noren's children go to the Caritas Environmental School. The traditional fishing communities are looked down on by wider society and often the children are not accepted into the local schools. Before the school was opened his children used to help him out on his boat and with domestic duties.

A fresh water canal in Shyamnagar. Due to the high rate of salinity in the surrounding soil due to shrimp farming, sea level rises and tidal surges during cyclones very little grows without this critical fresh water supplies. The canals also get contaminated with sea water during tidal surges in cyclones and have to cleaned and re excavated.

A fresh water canal in Shyamnagar. Due to the high rate of salinity in the surrounding soil due to shrimp farming, sea level rises and tidal surges during cyclones very little grows without this critical fresh water supplies. The canals also get contaminated with sea water during tidal surges in cyclones and have to cleaned and re excavated.

(Left) Sujan Sadar (8) grandson of fisherman Noren Sardar rowing his fathers fishing boat with Sujan Sadar (8), grandson of Noren Sadar. Before the school was built they would have had no access to education. The traditional fishing communities are looked down on by wider society and often the children are not accepted into the local schools. Instead they would be working on the fishing boats or domestic duties at home full time. Caritas established the school here in 2000. Before then, there were few opportunities for children from this area to be educated. Along with the usual subjects they are taught environmental subjects and about climate change to help them prepare for the future.

Shrimp farms in Shyamnagar. Due to the high rate of sea water needed and the salinity of the surrounding soil very little else grows around the shrimp farms. They have been ecologically disastrous for the environment in this region and salinity is increasing due to sea level rises and tidal surges during cyclones.

Gusto Gupal (37) next to his fresh water pond and vegetable garden in the village of East Jelekhali. The Gupal family received training and assistance as part of the program detailed below to help them adapt their land to farm rice, vegetables and fish after their land was flooded with saline water during Cyclone Aila in 2009.

Gusto Gupal (37) working in his rice field in the village of East Jelekhali. He is planting rice seedlings that were planted 25-30 days previously in another field. They are then transplanted into this field for around 3 months before harvesting.

Two woman walk along a raised road in Gabura carrying fresh water pots surrounded by damaged houses, dying trees and saline fields. Gabura was badly affected by Cyclone Aila that struck on May 25th 2009. Villagers were washed away by a tidal surge leaving many people homeless and their fields saline and unusable to grow crops. People survive by day labour or fishing and crabbing.

Nurjahan Sheik (30) and her daughter Runa (2) in Sura village in Gabura. They along with the rest of their village had to flee when Cyclone Aila destroyed it. They have resettled by the embankments of the Kholpetua River for the past 2 years. They hope to return one day but with no money and no recontruction of their village they are not hopeful.

Views from the top of Cyclone Shelter in Gabura built by Caritas in 1992. It now doubles as Darussunmat Daichil Madrasa with 375 students which has close to 50% girls and boys attending. Girls and boys during morning exercise classes on the playing field. Gabura was badly affected by Cyclone Aila that struck on May 25th 2009. Villagers were washed away by a tidal surge leaving many people homeless and their fields saline.

Rice farming.

People going to work through the rice fields and shrimp farms early morning on a foggy day in Shyamnagar.

Sujan Sadar (8) rowing his fathers fishing boat. The traditional fishing communities are looked down on by wider society and often the children are not accepted into the local schools. Before the school was built they would have had no access to education.Instead they would be working on the fishing boats or domestic duties at home full time.

Sweet Water-Climate Change in Bangladesh

Below is a short documentary film shot in January in Bangladesh for Caritas Australia. For me, it’s a bit of a milestone as it’s my first documentary film that has been produced and used in a widespread campaign which I’m very happy about. It was all shot on a Canon 5D Mk11 and separate audio taken on a Tascam DR-2D. The Caritas editing team have done a great job putting it all together.

As always there is room for improvement and I’ll describe how I’d approach it differently next time. First of all is the time issue. I had two excellent field staff helping me as interpreters and guides but the filming, stills and audio were all done by myself. I also had to collect stories and case studies from a number of different projects so the workload was very high.

Originally this was just going to be a photo assignment so the mind set was on photography and filming came second. What I realise is the importance of b-roll to help in the editing process and the flow of the story. Filming is very time consuming so I’d make sure to build in extra time to get much more b-roll.

Everything considered however I’m very happy with the outcome. Like most people filming with DSLR it’s a fairly new process which takes time to master but I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to take it to the next level. Please have a look and any comments would be much appreciated. Thanks.

For more information please click here. A Just Climate.

Sweet Water

Sweet Water explores the impact of climate change on communities living in the coastal regions of South-West Bangladesh. The short documentary exposes the rapid rise of sea water, the destruction of vital soils through increased salinity and the increased frequency and ferocity of cyclones in Bangladesh.

The impacts of climate change will be of significant detriment to the health, food security and livelihoods of some of the poorest communities in the world, exacerbating existing development challenges in these vulnerable regions. Ironically, it is often the poorest communities who have contributed the least to global warming who are the most vulnerable to its impacts. Sweet Water illustrates how the vulnerable coastal communities in South-West Bangladesh are responding to the impacts of climate change in their region.

Thanks and credits to: Caritas Bangladesh and the communities of Satkhira District, Richard Wainwright, Lisa-Anne Morris and Cam MacKellar.

Bangkok-Conflict Resolution Course

I thought I’d post a quick update as to what I’m doing at the moment. I’m currently one month into a three month study course in Bangkok at Chulalongkorn University studying on the Rotary Peace and Conflict Resolution program. It’s been intense but stimulating with lots of new ideas and concepts, many I’ve never considered before or been exposed to.

Our class of 17 consists of a colourful mix of nations from Brazil to Malaysia, USA to India, Zimbabwe to Italy with backgrounds as varied including aid workers in Sudan, policemen in Mumbai and Philadelphia, a researcher in Java, social worker in Rio and land issues consultant in Argentina. All in all an amazing mix of very professional people which creates some pretty lively discussions..normally over a few beers..!

So far we have been taught how to analyse conflicts by looking for structural causes, connectors and dividers and actors. How to negotiate, mediate and facilitate discussions and situations. Looked at the concepts of Do No Harm and Human Security and the role media plays in conflict.

If your interested in keeping up to date with how the course is going I’m writing a separate blog here:

http://conflictres.wordpress.com

I made a conscious decision before setting off on this course not to bring all my equipment so I only have one camera and one lens. That may sound strange for a photographer but I realised that this was an academic study course, not a photo assignment. It’s been a bit frustrating at times because I’ve missed making some nice pictures but a trip to northern Thailand made me realise I had made the right decision. When I’m taking pictures, I get into this ‘zone’ where nothing else matters but the image. To make the most of the course you have to write copious amounts of notes and listen to all the lectures and concentrate on what is being said…something you can’t do when taking pictures..!

However, when we visited a Buddhist Monastery right on the border of Burma I couldn’t help myself because it was just screaming out to be photographed..! Whilst I think I made some nice pictures, I wasn’t ‘present’ for those 20 minutes..! I was also using a fellow students Nikon..!!..not something I’d normally admit to being a Canon man but my mirror detached from my 5D. However, I finally got to use the CPS Gold service back in Bangkok who fixed, cleaned and tested the camera in under an hour for $16….you can’t complain at that…!!

Novice monks and students at Wat Fa Wiang from Shan State in burma line up for their lunch at 12pm. The won't eat again until the next morning. Many Shan people fled Burma and took refuge in the monastery after heavy fighting in this area in 2002 between the Shan State Army and the Burmese Government.

Many Shan people fled Burma and took refuge in the monastery after heavy fighting in this area in 2002 between the Shan State Army and the Burmese Government.

Novice monks and students at Wat Fa Wiang

Novice monks and students at Wat Fa Wiang.

Novice monks and students at the Sangha Metta Project.

Novice monks and students at the Sangha Metta Project. They are also taught how to grow rice and be self sufficient.

A Burmese soldier looks across the border into Wat Fa Wiang from what used to be a dormitory for a number of novice monks. The monastery lost this part of the building after heavy fighting in this area in 2002 between the Shan Sate Army and the Burmese Government. Many Shan people fled Burma and took refuge in the monastery.

View from Thailand over the Golden Triangle with Burma on the left and Laos on the right. Northern Thailand and the borderlands between Burma and Laos are home to a number of stateless hill tribes and is renown for drug smuggling and human trafficking.

A Thai military check point in Piang Luang. They are mostly looking for drugs and arms but also illegal immigrants and human trafficking.

A women looks out of a bus at a Thai military check point in Piang Luang. They are mostly looking for drugs and arms but also illegal immigrants and human trafficking

Foto8 Summershow Finalist

An image from an assignment to Bangladesh earlier this year for Caritas Australia has been selected as a finalist in the Foto8 Summershow 2011 in London. An exhibition at the HOST gallery from 8th July will display the images.

‘The Foto8 Summershow has become a unique opportunity for photographers from all backgrounds and disciplines to participate in the creation of a new aesthetic. An aesthetic that is becoming less formal and harder to define as photographers explore new approaches to their subjects and themes allowing their work to stand out.’

The Caritas campaign about how climate change is affecting this area in the south west of Bangladesh will be launched shortly so I’ll hopefully be able to put some more images and a multimedia presentation they completed here soon..watch this space…!

Students from Darussunmat Daichil Madrasa in Gabura, south West Bangladesh exercise on the playing field next to the cyclone shelter that doubles as their school. Gabura, which is one of the most climate change affected zones in the world was badly damaged by Cyclone Aila that struck on May 25th 2009. Villagers were washed away by a tidal surge leaving many people homeless and their fields saline. The shelter is a lifeline for many of the residents each cyclone season.© Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia

Legacy of the Lord’s Resistance Army

Once again it has been almost 4 months since my last post..!! It’s not that I’ve haven’t been busy, quite the opposite in fact, things haven’t stopped since Christmas which now seems like a very long time ago..!

So what’s been happening..? Well, in January I was in Bangladesh completing a project for an Australian NGO on the impact of climate change in the Sundarbans region which was an eye opener. It was my first time in Bangladesh and I really liked the place, Dhaka is crazy whilst the coastal regions are beautiful but facing some very real issues due to climate change compounded with the ever increasing devastating cyclones. I’ll hopefully be putting something on this blog very soon after the stories have been used in their campaigns.

Then I had a commission from The Sunday Times Magazine in London in outback Australia, which again is embargoed until it’s published, hopefully soon, so will be writing something up after that.

Then a few weeks ago I returned to northern Uganda to complete a story about how the north is recovering now that the Lord’s Resistance Army have moved their murderous ways into DRC, south Sudan and the Central African Republic. For me, this was a story close to my heart. I first went and reported on the LRA nearly 10 years ago as a very green photographer but the stories and images I saw there had a huge impact on me and knew I’d like to follow it up in the future. It’s taken some time but I jumped at the chance to go back to what is now thankfully, a peaceful if traumatised region in a beautiful country. This was my fourth visit to Uganda having completed a story on HIV, the LRA and proposing to my wife whilst gorilla trekking so it remains one of my favourite countries..!!

My original story can be found here LRA and I have used a number of these images to introduce the context of the latest story. It was a very short trip, so a real challenge to put a story together but we were well prepared and knew what was needed. The main aim was to produce images for two newspaper journalists to highlight the situation and what the NGO is doing to help there. On top of that, I was asked to produce a multimedia piece so time was the biggest factor. Making sure I had the images needed in the bag, I’d then focus on getting as much video and audio as possible. It was a huge learning curve once again as every assignment is different but next time I’ll make sure I’ll:-

A:- Shoot much, much more B-Roll as this makes editing far more interesting/easier.

B:-Audio, audio and more audio..!..I know audio is the key to a successful project and I need to spend more time learning how to juggle recording ambient, the person being interviewed and the person translating all at the same time.  The sound on the 5D even with a Rode stereo mike is just not usable when compared to recording on a separate recorder, a Tascam in my case. In this case I recorded the translator on the Tascam which sounds good and I hoped to record the sound of the people being interviewed on a Rode mic attached to the camera but the his and weak sound means it is almost impossible to match the two together to get decent audio. The ideal situation would be to record the interview properly then do the translation separately if time wasn’t an issue.

C:- Invest more time on Lynda.com and other training courses learning Final Cut Pro and Motion to make the project more animated.

Next trip hopefully there will be enough time to do a proper interview with someone who can narrate the history and give context to the story, spend more time shooting b-roll and have a clearer plan how I’m going to collect decent audio..that being a perfect world of course..!

I’ve uploaded the presentation here and also some images in case you don’t have time to watch so any comments please just let me know..genuine feedback is always very welcome..

Legacy of The Lord’s Resistance Army

For over two decades one of Africa’s most violent rebel groups, The Lord’s Resistance Army have been terrorising northern Uganda.

Their initial aim was to defend the rights of the Acholi population but this quickly disappeared as they embarked on a brutal campaign of child abductions, murder, mutilations, rape and looting. Over 30,000 children have been abducted, forced to fight and kill each other and family members which has resulted in over 90% of the population fleeing to live in squalid displaced persons camps.

The LRA finally left Uganda in 2006 heading into Sudan for peace talks leaving an uneasy peace in northern Uganda allowing people to start returning home to their villagers. Lazira is a small village of 350 people in Agago District where people now feel safe enough to return. They fled to Patongo IDP Camp in 2002 at the height of the conflict. Many people were abducted from Lazira village by the LRA and were forced to attack their own people and many other similar villagers all over Uganda. Most have now escaped the LRA and have returned home and are trying to integrate back into the community they once terrorised.

The peace talks however failed and now the LRA are roaming the countryside of the DRC, South Sudan and Central African Republic, continuing their reign of terror on communities there.

Ongom Donsiano (36) who was abducted by the LRA in 1998 from Luziro village in Northern Uganda. He was sent to South Sudan for training and became part of an elite fighting unit. He became a sergeant and then a commander and gave orders for attacks on civilians. He decided to leave the LRA and contacted the Ugandan army giving them information which led them to defeat the LRA in the area surrounding his home village of Luzira. He is now the head of the Luziro Farming Collective.

Odoch David (21) who was abducted in 2000 for 3 years from his home village of Luzira in Northern Uganda. He was taken to Kitgum where he was trained to fight then sent to the frontline and operated in both Uganda and Sudan. He was involved with a large attack on a Ugandan military base in Kitgum. He escaped after being surrounded by government forces and taken to the nearby town of Patongo. He returned home to Luzira where he found out his father was dead and his brother had also been abducted. He now has a wife and 3 children and lives in Luzira village.

Abur Carla (28) who was abducted by the LRA from her home village of Luzira in Northern Uganda in 2001 for 6 years. She was forced to become a fighter, loot and abduct other people. Many abductees were also forced to kill fellow abductees and villagers. She managed to escape in 2007 during a government forces attack and fled to Patongo town. She has now returned to live in Luzira village.

On the road to former Operat IDP camp from Patongo town in a Caritas vehicle during a rain storm.

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

Akidi Mariana (72) in the former Patongo IDP Camp in Northern Uganda where she lived for 5 years having fled her nearby village of Luzira after attacks by the LRA. She lived with six other members of her family in this hut. Pictured with one of her sons Okot Bosco Muleke (27).

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

A mother and child in the village of Luzira in Northern Uganda. The village was abandoned and people fled mostly to Patongo IDP Camp nearby following attacks by the LRA. They stared to resettle back in Luzira from 2007.

Akidi Mariana (72) outside her home in the village of Luzira in Northern Uganda. She resettled back home in 2007 having lived with her family in Patongo IDP Camp for 5 years having fled attacks by the LRA.

Borders and Barriers-The Belfast Peacelines-Multimedia-V2

(This is the latest version of the multimedia with a few image, transition and caption changes)

It’s taken some time but I’ve finally put together a multimedia presentation from my recent assignment to Belfast as part of the Borders and Barriers project.

It was my first time shooting video, using a lavalier mic and making pictures which was hard work but very enjoyable. Juggling all three is a real challenge and you need time and space to achieve that. I was fairly realistic about what I could produce in 10 days and am quite happy with the outcome and now I’m more experienced with the technical side I’m looking forward to the next assignment.

Much more time consuming however was learning Final Cut Pro 7 when I returned..!! It’s a monster of a program but worth every minute of training on Lynda.com. I’ve only scratched the surface on its use but wanted to put together a small presentation to see how it worked and looked. There are some changes I know I’d like to make already but this is a work in progress and needs a return trip to Belfast to complete but any comments or suggestions on any aspect of the film would be appreciated.

Do you think it needs subtitles, is the music too loud, cuts to quick, pictures up for long enough and more importantly, was it engaging and informative…? Any comments like this would be really helpful for the future. Hope you enjoy it and speak to you soon….

Thanks…

The Belfast Peacelines-V2 from Richard Wainwright on Vimeo.

Reportage Photo Festival 2010-Sydney

Reportage Photo Festival in Sydney, one of the best documentary photography festivals in the southern hemisphere is almost upon us with the opening night on November 11th. The official program has just been published which shows a very strong selection of extended photo essays over two Projection Nights at The National Arts School in East Sydney. There are also talks and exhibitions including Reportage’s Retrospective and Stephen Dupont’s images from Afghanistan which will be excellent.

This is one of the few forums that extended photo essays can be viewed and there are some great stories being told over the nights. I’m very happy that my images from Mongolia will be shown on Projection Night 2, November 13. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to show not only images about the two boys who live underground but also images that surround this issue. I’ve combined the two picture stories which can be found on my website so if your interested have a quick look there.

I’m going to be in town for most of the weekend so will hopefully catch up with lots of people there for a few beers..!!

Munkhbat and Altangeret (both 15) have lived in this manhole together for over three years under the streets of Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world. They were forced into this situation by divorced and deceased parents but they still hope and strive for a better future.

Borders and Barriers-The Belfast Peace Lines

I’ve finally recovered from jet lag and have started working on a few images from my recent trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland. This forms the third part of my long term project on borders and barriers around the world.

Although a very short trip I still managed to get around most of Belfast thanks to the many community groups who helped out. I met some fascinating people who have dedicated large parts of their lives to help understand and report on the consequences of these peacelines or peace walls and the overall situation in Northern Ireland. I also met and interviewed participants of ‘The Troubles’, many of whom spent years in prison and were released as part of the peace process and now work in community relation groups.

Belfast is quite possibly one of the friendliest places I’ve worked in but spending time in the interface areas (places where Catholic and Protestant communities live next to each other), away from the now buzzing city centre, an air of uncertainty, distrust, anxiety and underdevelopment is still very much evident. On either side of the walls, life continues as normal and many people are happy to drive from one area to another but most said there are areas they would not feel safe to walk in. In many cases, people who live just meters apart, divided by a 20 ft high multi layered barrier have never met or even have the desire to meet each other. Segregation permeates all areas of life both physically and psychologically, from housing where over 95% of social housing is either Catholic or Protestant to education where only around 5% of children attend integrated schools. Whilst most of the violence of the 90’s has stopped, rioting in flashpoints still does occur and virtually all residents who live next to the peacelines and interface areas do not want the walls to come down. At night, gates are closed to both traffic and pedestrians, effectively cutting off Protestant from Catholic areas. They feel safer, at least physiologically, with these physical barriers intact which they say they now hardly even notice.

The first peacelines where erected back at the start of ‘The Troubles’ in the late 60’s and were supposed to be temporary structures separating the Loyalist Protestant from the Republican Catholic communities. Ironically, since the peace agreement over 10 years ago, many more barriers have been built. In 1994 there were approximately 24 walls, there are now an estimated 90 structures in place throughout Belfast from obvious 20 foot high walls to thinly disguised disused houses, waste land and community gates with the latest wall being built little over 24 months ago.

I’ll be making a return trip there next year to continue this story so below are some images taken during my time there. I’m also working on editing audio and video I shot. I really enjoyed shooting video for the first time and think the audio interviews I took really add to the sense of the place. Multimedia is fast becoming the most exciting and informative way to show stories so once I’ve got the basics of FCP, I’ll post an update here.

Any questions or comments you have please get in contact……

The main peace wall that runs for over 5km dividing the predominantly Protestant Shankill Road Area from the Catholic Falls Road in West Belfast. Seen from the Catholic area of St Galls Avenue just off the Falls Road, many of the houses in this area have been rebuilt since the troubles in the 1990's

A resident of Bombay Street with the peace wall backing onto his property in West Belfast. This street became the epicenter of violence during the early days of the troubles and most of the original houses were burnt down.

Gates in peace walls all over Belfast are locked at night separating the Catholic areas from Protestant areas. Looking through the Workman Avenue gate into the Protestant Woodvale estate in West Belfast.

A resident walking past housing next to the peace wall in Protestant Woodvale area in West Belfast.

Joseph Hasett a Catholic resident on the Springfield road who lives opposite the peace wall separating them from the protestant Woodvale estate in West Belfast.

A tourist bus passes a peace wall on the Protestant Cupar Way Road in West Belfast. So called Terror Tours have become a familiar sight in West Belfast.

Caoileann Meehan (16) from the Catholic area of Springfield Road. He days he doesn't mix much with the Protestant teeanagers on the other side of the wall and believes that violence would dramatically increase if the walls came down.

Caoileann Meehan (16) from the Catholic area of Springfield Road. He says he doesn't mix with the Protestant teenagers on the other side of the wall and never goes over there. He believes that violence would dramatically increase if the walls came down.

A young Protestant family go through the Workman Avenue gate in the peace wall in West Belfast. At night the gates are closed.

Catholic houses on the Springfield Road opposite Workman Avenue, a notorious flashpoint during the marching season. The houses are bricked inbetween to stop rioters entering further into the residential area and the front windows removed.

The Shankill Road complete with British flags reflecting their allegiance to Britain. Many Protestant areas are adorned with flags as a means of identity.

Segregation is common in Northern Ireland's education system with only 3-5% of children attending mixed schools. Pupils studying at Springfield Primary School in West Belfast, a segregated Protestant School in a mostly Catholic area.

A man walks along the interface area and peace wall in Bryson Street dividing the Short Strand area of East Belfast, a Catholic enclave of about 3,500 people in a predominantly Protestant area.

Cluan Place, a Protestant area surrounding the Catholic enclave of Short Strand in East Belfast.

An old and rusty peace wall shields new housing in the Catholic New Lodge community from the Tigers Bay Protestant area on the other side in North Belfast.

L-R Padraig Smyth (18), Brian McCartney (19) and Gerard Morgin (20) on Springfield road next to the peace wall in West Belfast. They say they don't ever go over to the Protestant side of the wall. They have no bad feelings towards the Protestants but don't want the wall to come down.

A peace wall in Townsend Street looking from the Catholic side towards the Shankill Protestant area. This gate is closed at 5.30pm and opened at 7am.

he peace wall and interface in Protestant Glenbryn Park with Catholic Alliance Avenue on other side.

A peace wall and interface area in Protestant Glenbryn Park with Catholic Alliance Avenue on other side.

Exhibitions in Sydney and Perth

Another month has just flashed by since the last post but as always a lot has been happening behind the scenes. I’ve been updating my portfolio books, the website which will hopefully be re-launched in a week or so and arranging two upcoming exhibitions, details of which are posted here. I’ve also been researching my next assignment to Belfast and trying to understand the complex current and historical situation there. It should be an interesting trip which starts in a months time.

As for now, the first exhibition to open is in Perth at the excellent Moore’s Contemporary Gallery in Fremantle this Friday. Curated by Amnesty International in Australia, Journey Towards Hope looks at the reality of life for refugees and asylum seekers, a hot topic of debate over here which became a major campaign issue during the recent election. I’ll be showing my work from the Sudanese refugee camps in Eastern Chad and giving a talk about the situation there. The Fringe Shutter Collective will also be displaying images as well as images from students with refugee backgrounds from the Edmund Rice Centre. It should be a great evening with lots to see so please feel free to come along this Friday 27th from 7pm if your in the area.

The exhibition runs until 5 September.

On the same theme, Amnesty International in Sydney will also be hosting an exhibition called Journey to Freedom at Carriageworks in Redfern, Sydney opening Wednesday 1st September so again, if your in the area please pop by. The Chad story will be shown alongside three other great photographers. The exhibition showcases photos of Iraqi refugees in Iran by Ed Giles and East Timorese refugees in Australia by Alanta Colley along with images from Africa by Hamish Gregory.

The aim of the exhibition is to humanise the plight of the refugees as well as displaying positive images of settled refugee families. I’ll be there on the opening night on Wednesday 1st along with Ed so if your around it would be great to meet up. This will be my first time in Sydney which I’m really looking forward to so if you know any cool bars and fancy a beer please let me know..!!

If you’d like further information about either of the exhibitions just send me an email or leave a comment on this blog. Thanks.

Yasser Arafat’s Funeral-2004

The great thing about updating your website and portfolio is that it’s a great excuse to look back over all your old images and sometimes discover new ones. It’s also a great excuse for a bit of reminiscing and covering Yasser Arafat’s funeral in Ramallah in 2004 is without doubt one of my favourite assignments. When I started at my newspaper I actually said to my then picture editor that I had no holidays booked but should Arafat die I will going to the funeral no matter what.

A few years later he was good to his word and after a phone call at 8.30am informing me Arafat had died I was on the next plane out of Jersey at 10am. First stop was London, Zurich then onto Tel Aviv arriving at 5.30am the next morning and straight down to the Israeli GPO where the whose who of photojournalism where all looking equally tired and anxious to get to Ramallah. Nobody knew exactly what was happening but the latest rumour was the funeral was to be held later that afternoon. I teamed up with other photographers who I’d met on the plane and had worked with in Afghanistan just a few weeks before. Hiring a Palestinian taxi at an exorbitant rate we wound our way around the back roads, trying to avoid the many Israeli roadblocks. What should have been a straight 15 drive turned into a 90 minute circus. Eventually reaching the Qalandiya checkpoint then a long walk into Ramallah and the Muqata, Arafat’s home for years where he had been held under siege before he fell ill and left for Paris.

The atmosphere was actually quite festive and more of a celebration of life than a state in mourning. As we got closer and the arrival time getting nearer the tension in the air was palpable and increasing by the minute. Thousands of Palestinians from all over the West Bank wanted to get as close as possible and started scaling the walls of the compound and clinging onto any object with a view. When the two Egyptian Air Force helicopters finally appeared, almost at once everyone started whistling and cheering. With dust being blown everywhere from the downwash and the pushing and shoving in the heat it became electric. There where hundreds of armed men from all the militias and PA who started firing pistols, Ak47’s and all sorts of weaponry into the air adding to the deafening noise. Bullet casing flew and burnt people as they dropped down their shirts. A number of people fell off the top of high buildings and died as the crowds shoved forward for their first view of Arafat’s coffin.

If things were crazy before, the moment the coffin was brought out all hell let loose. Soldiers lost control of the crowd despite firing into the air and what was to be a dignified occasion attended by the great and the good of Palestine ended up being a funeral for the people as thousands of men and woman surged forward to the coffin. You couldn’t walk in the crush, you more like swam with the crowd, trying to get pictures but finding it difficult to even raise your arms.

As the coffin eventually found is way to the final resting place the generally good natured crowd turned into a bit of an embarrassing scrum around the grave. Mourners and photographers jostled for position trying to see into the grave which some people very nearly fell into. Not journalism’s most dignified moment but everyone, photogs and mourners just wanted that picture of Arafat’s final resting place.

As the sun started to set the crowd started slowing dispersing and we made our way back to Jerusalem to file and get some well deserved beers in. All in all a crazy but amazing day and one of the many days why I love being a photojournalist. Looking at the news that night on TV it looked even more chaotic than actually being there which is generally the case anyway but it was a real privilege to witness a great moment in Middle Eastern history.

Anyway, enough waffling on, below are some of the images I took that day. I decided to show them in mono as the light was very harsh and I just think it suits this story anyway….