Frontline Syria: a tale of ‘destruction and despair’

2013-05-25 00:00

A YOUNG South African reporter discovered that there is nothing romantic about the job of foreign correspondent when he accompanied Pietermaritzburg aid organisation, The Gift of the Givers, on their humanitarian trip to Syria.

For two weeks in April Yusuf Omar (24) travelled across Northern Syria with a team of South African medics who had snuck into the war-torn country. Along the way he had to duck mortar fire, met victims of war and shared meals with members of the Free Syria Army.

“It wasn’t the Syria I’d always imagined. I saw no vibrant souks or age-old mosques. Just destruction and despair,” Omar said.

His documentary — Working in a Warzone: The Syrian Conflict through South African Eyes — offers a raw account of what it takes to tell a story from the edge of a civil war.

From being smuggled across borders to doctors under fire mid-surgery, the film introduces farmers-turned-fighters and their children who are caught in the crossfire.

There is also a behind-the-scenes insight into life in battle-ravaged Syria — with all its ruined cities, refugee camps and deserted schools.

“There is nothing romantic about being a war correspondent. The only thing that keeps you sane is finding the moments of humanity in all the madness,” Omar said.

More than 100 000 people in Syria have died since the conflict began in March 2011.

Omar’s documentary can be seen on eNCA (DStv channel 403) at 8.30 pm on Monday, 10.30 am and 9.30 pm on Tuesday, 3.30 pm on Wednesday, 9.30 am on Thursday and Saturday and 12.30 pm on Friday.

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