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Aid & development

Articles on humanitarian and development aid

Making a documentary on Angola

I had been thinking about the trip ahead for eight years, and had spent €5,000 to get here. And now, just as I was about to start, I felt like quittin I was standing at a dusty border crossing in the very south of Angola, in southern Africa. Trucks heading north trundled past, accelerating away… read more +

Angola After the War

A new documentary film by Colin Murphy, with stills photography by Guy Tillim (as below), screening on Thursday September 23 on RTE One, at 10.50pm, and on the RTE Player at

The story of Pickhandle Mary

Johannesburg was a city where you could have been advised to carry a pickhandle. I managed to stay out of trouble myself, but one one occasion saw a gun being drawn on someone, and was threatened with one on another. My flat was on the first floor of an old detached house in a once… read more +

Roadblocks of corpses: the media and Haiti

If Haiti was visited by an “apocalypse” or “Dantean” horror in the aftermath of the earthquake of January 12, then there was one news story that perfectly captured it. The streets of Port-au-Prince, the devastated capital, were littered with roadblocks made of corpses. Earthquake survivors, out of either anger or trauma, or perhaps Caribbean voodoo… read more +

Aminatou Haidar returns to Western Sahara

The Western Saharan activist ended her hunger strike on Thursday last, following Morocco’s agreement to allow her return to Laayoune, as I reported for the Sunday Tribune. See also earlier reports on Haidar’s hunger strike here and on the situation in Western Sahara, including an interview with Haidar, here.

On Angola in Le Monde Diplomatique

I spent August in Angola, working on a documentary, and have written

Democracy & Dialogue

I’m currently working on a documentary on post-war Angola, and have cut this one-minute short for entry to the Democracy & Dialogue competition in this year’s digital film festival in Dublin. [youtube=]

Alegre’s Story. A World Report from Kuito, Angola

I’ve just returned from Angola, where I was filming a documentary on recovery and reconstruction in the town of Kuito, since the end of the war. This is a short radio essay telling the story of one of the people I met there, Alegre. It was broadcast on World Report on RTE Radio One.

Review: ‘The Challenge for Africa’

In 1960, a young Kenyan woman named Mary Jo arrived in the United States. She was one of about 300 students in the ‘Kennedy Airlift’ scholarship programme, and amongst her peers was a young man named Barack Hussein Obama. In 2004, the year that Obama’s son gave the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention in… read more +

Reporting on refugee issues

Speech given at the launch of a new guide for journalists on reporting on refugee issues. I came into journalism relatively late. In early 2000, I found myself in Angola in Southern Africa, as an aid worker with an Irish NGO, where the main focus of our work was the people displaced by the Angolan… read more +