Light Shines On War Reporters

Regular readers of this blog will know my interest in the situation over in Kosovo.

For those who don’t, click on the category that bears its name for a series of reports and blogs about my time there during its conflict almost a decade ago.

It’s taken a long time, but a new chapter is beginning for the country with the UN handing over executive powers thanks to a new constitution implemented from today.

The NATO protectorate announced its independence from Serbia in February, sparking a violent backlash in some areas.

But such sporadic fighting has little chance of coverage up against the more fashionable wars of Iraq and Afghanistan these days.

Depending on the reactions to this latest developments from Serbia and its ally Russia, not to mention those within its own borders, we may very well start hearing very much more.

Today, though, my thoughts drifted back to 1999 and the people I met along the way.

Most of all the war reporters.

Talented, brave people from all walks of life, helping each other out, trading stories, beers and tips – not to mention the coveted sat-phones.

Susanna Tello from Madrid, Jeremy Bowen from the BBC, a bunch of Italians in a mobile home who’s names I never understood, but who saved me from the mother of all kickings from drunk Albanian soldiers one night before plying me with their smuggled in Scotch.

Australians, other ‘Jocks’ along the way, a few Kiwis, and a camaraderie which made it the best of times and the worst of times.

Including when word filtered through of other news crews who would never make it back, killed by land-mine or, more often, their vehicle tumbling off the mountain ledges on the fool-hardy drive necessary to reach our positions.

Tonight the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will help remember not just them, but all reporters who have given their lives all too often to send home the news.

He will unveil ‘Breathing’ – a 32-ft high memorial of light that will shine into the London night air from BBC Broadcasting House at 10pm each evening – designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and dedicated to all those journalists killed in action, their translators and fixers too.

It isn’t much in the greater scheme of things, but it’s something to remember them by.

And maybe that’s all they ever wanted in the first place.

Categories: Blogs

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