An Assignment Worse Than Hell Feb25

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An Assignment Worse Than Hell


Along the border AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

Syria’s 544-mile border with Turkey has long been a common path for illegal entry or exit. These days, that border has drawn a new group of illegal entrants to Syria: foreign correspondents covering a nearly year-old conflict that seems to grow bloodier by the week.

As the civil war in Syria intensifies, it has become the only pathway foreign journalists can use to sneak in under the nose of Syrian authorities who are determined to keep out foreign press. Very few visas are granted to the foreign correspondents — which is why reporters from the BBC, the New York Times, CBS, and other news outlets have taken the clandestine route from Turkey this month.

“If I’m caught,” said CBS correspondent Clarissa Ward, “I’ll spend time in jail and be used as a political bargaining chip.”

Ward has made two sorties into Syria, the latest in early February. Trudging through mud canals created by a week of rain, in the dark of night, with a sprained ankle, was Ward’s only option to exit the country as unnoticed as she entered. Ward hired a professional smuggler to act as a guide and translator to make her safe escape.

To cover the uprising in Syria, reporters like Ward are willing to risk their lives by embedding with opposition forces and being smuggled back and forth across the borders. In light of the deaths of the Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and the New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid, the safety and working conditions for journalists in Syria have become increasingly hazardous.

Read the full story on the Huffington Post

Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver is a student at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached on Twitter @AnnieClaireBO