David Sperry – News

After Mali

Posted in Mali Conflict 2013 by davidsperry on February 10, 2013

Something a little different from Mali for the financial weekly WirtschaftsWoche, the Koderian gold mine and IDPs in Bamako during the French intervention:

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all images copyright © david sperry for wirtschaftswoche

First 48 hours on the ground in Syria

Posted in Syria Civil War 2012 by davidsperry on August 10, 2012

A Fighter’s Funeral:

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all images copyright © david sperry all rights reserved

First 48 hours on the ground in Lebanon

Posted in Syria Civil War 2012 by davidsperry on July 17, 2012

Decided to warm up for Syria with a trip to Lebanon. Met with a good friend in Beirut, worked some contacts and headed to Tripoli, a city in the north with a large Syrian population and strong ties across the nearby border. With the influx of refugees from 16 months of war and a substantial pre-existing Alawite community, sectarian tensions were high and an increasing amount of gun battles had been taking place on the street.

Began by feeling out the situation near the border; speaking with refugees, doctors, smugglers and activists. Standard procedure. Started at the hospitals, perhaps these first encounters give a tiny glimpse into the conflict:

Khder Edres, a 25 year old Syrian refugee lies on a bed in Tripoli Governmental Hospital, Tripoli, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. Khder was hit by mortar shrapnel in June, 2012 while attending a demonstration in Homs calling for the end of Bashar Al Assad’s regime. In a shift of Lebanese governmental policy, medical funding is scheduled to be cut and Khder is due to be evicted from the hospital in 4 days unless he can pre-pay for the remainder of treatment.

Midal Kodosi, a 27 year old Syrian refugee sits on a bed in Al Shifa Private Hospital, Tripoli, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. Midal, a non-combatant was hit during random mortar shelling in Homs in February of 2012. On the computer screen behind a video plays showing Midal shortly after the attack, lying bloody on the ground caressing the lifeless face of his infant son.

Am Abdalaziz, a 40 year old Syrian refugee sits on a bed in Al Shifa Private Hospital, Tripoli, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. Am was hit by shrapnel from a Hound rocket in Homs and lost both her legs while attempting to flee the city with her family in April of 2012. The rest of her household, husband and two children, died trying to escape.

Will post images from Syria.

After Libya

Posted in Libya Civil War 2011 by davidsperry on January 1, 2012

Not much blog updating. Have been posting to Twitter on the go with the sat phone, quite like the format.

Four trips to Libya since the last post, through Tobruk, Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Brega, Ras Lanuf in the East; Nalut, Zintan, Bir Ghanam, Zawiya, Tripoli in the West; and Sirte and Misrata near the center.

A few screen grabs from my most recent visit to the country from the battle of Sirte and the death of Muammar Gaddafi:

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all images copyright © david sperry/ap

First 48 Hours on the Ground in Libya

Posted in Libya Civil War 2011 by davidsperry on March 12, 2011

Arrived in Benghazi after slight delay. A combination of train, bus and shared taxi secured the first trip from Cairo to Sallum border crossing. Not completely comfortable but easy with numerous options for schedule changes along the 700km route. Stopped back in Marsa Matruh and hit the only hotel in town with a bar and wifi to meet up with a colleague arriving in the middle of the night.

The border post was a bit of a mess having recently been captured by the rebels. There was a dusty computer sitting in the bullet-ridden customs office but it wasn’t plugged in. A stand-in clerk took the passports and wrote down names and nationalities in Arabic in before handing them back without being stamped. Outside a group of men reconfirmed my non-Israeliness and I was on my way.

Got an over priced Benz Vito from the border to the center of Benghazi and negotiated a surprisingly decent hotel room before working out NTC press credentials and transportation. The atmosphere on the street is energetic and chaotic. The road to the constantly shifting front line is a lone desert highway being targeted by Gaddafi’s MIGs. The rebels are a diverse group of untrained men wanting to fight but not quite sure how.

Due to lack of reliable internet updates will be via Twitter for the time.

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all images copyright © david sperry all rights reserved

First 48 hours on the ground in Tunisia

Posted in Libya Civil War 2011 by davidsperry on March 6, 2011

Morning of arrival at the Tunisian/Libyan border Gadaffi’s forces made a hard push to solidify control of the western front.

Stayed in the refugee camp until sunrise, shot for an hour or so, spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to get across. Yesterday the refugee flow slowed to a trickle, only Bangladeshis and sub-Saharan Africans being let through, no Arabs.

All roads leading to Tunisia on lock-down, had to accept the reality that a border jump wasn’t going to happen here at the moment. Booked the next flight from Tunis to Cairo, will enter through the eastern front like everyone else.

Few snaps from my first hour back in the saddle:

all images copyright © david sperry all rights reserved

Welcome Back

Posted in Libya Civil War 2011 by davidsperry on March 2, 2011

Welcome back! One year photo hiatus. Severed all the flexor tendons and much of the nerves in the four fingers of my right hand. Out of the country, no health care, etc. After eight months of bullshit, finally organized tendon transplant surgery at a public hospital in NYC. Tunisia? Pre-surgery physical therapy. Egypt? Pre-surgery physical therapy. Libya? Ciao, baby! Gaffer taped up some left handed Leicas and ready to roll with my cripple self. Sexy pic from the MacBook Pro of aforementioned incident, incase you’re curious:

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on March 1, 2010

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Finally saw a Haiti 2010 t shirt today. I fly back to NYC tomorrow morning. Au revoir Ayiti.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 28, 2010

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Attended a burial ceremony the other day. While wondering around the cemetery snapping I was waved over by a grave digger. The woman mourning requested that I not photograph, this was the seventeenth family member she had buried in the past six weeks. We drove back to Champ de Mars together and she explained a bit of her life since the earthquake. Her son was trapped underneath the rubble of her home, speaking to her coherently. She contacted the UN to dig him out, they crushed him with the backhoe. The UN refused to help bury the body so she carried it on her shoulder to the cemetery that evening. The cemetery was locked, she climbed up the pile of dead bodies and jumped the gate before smashing the front of her father’s tomb with a rock and laying her son inside. Sixteen corpses later and we met, watching her nephew being placed into an already over-stuffed grave. I expressed my sincere condolences. “I don’t care about that, I want you to know my story”.

There it is.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 27, 2010

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No more access. The director was always a problem and now the guards won’t play ball. Short of scaling the wall with some sort of grappling hook I think this is it. Unfortunately I was only allowed 5 minutes to shoot each day I could get in, would have liked to spend more time with these guys.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 26, 2010

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No access to the psychological institution today, my usual method of negotiating entrance failed to work. I was told to come back tomorrow at 10 AM. This could be a problem.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 25, 2010

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Brought some Haitian butter cookies and cigarettes today, everyone was happy.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 24, 2010

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“Hey man, where’s my cookie? You were supposed to bring me a cookie. You keep coming but you don’t bring no cookies.” I am uncertain if there is an official food distribution system at the institution I am currently working at. The patients claim they are not fed but the director says otherwise. Monday a man was hiding in the bathroom corner eating chicken and rice out of a styrofoam container; yesterday another was sitting wrapped up in blankets eating rice and beans from a styrofoam container. Every street food vendor in Port-au-Prince uses identical styrofoam, the patients must receive the food from visiting family or pay the guards to get it for them. I will pick up some cookies tomorrow.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 23, 2010

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Awoke to a 4.7 aftershock last night around 1:30 AM, seven minutes later a subsequent aftershock shook me out of bed. First time I have experienced two back to back like that. Ran out of the room with my camera and joined the other guests in the courtyard, we stood around in our underwear for a few minutes and made some morbid jokes before going back inside to sleep. The Haitians staying in the rear of the hotel were more cautious and seem to have spent the night outside sleeping on pool chairs. The Israeli aid workers staying in the next building over pitched their tents on the concrete. The first week I was here I gave my tent to an elderly lady living outside with no waterproof shelter. I think my room has new cracks in the walls.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 22, 2010

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Sorry about the lack of updates, got quite a bit more sick before getting better. Was escorted to General Hospital the other night after being coerced by the fine healthcare workers observing my symptoms at Le Plaza. Saw an American doctor and got hooked up with Cipro and electrolyte mix. Spent the last days in bed recuperating, drank tons of water and got off the cigarettes and alcohol temporarily. Feeling better now, the more incapacitating symptoms have dissipated and the antibiotics seem to have done their job.

Started a reportage on psychological institutions, more pics to come.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 17, 2010

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Stuck in bed for the past two days, extremely sick. I suspect the delicious street chicken to be the culprit of my illness so back to Clif Bars serving as my main sustenance. Hope to be fully operational by tomorrow.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 15, 2010

copyright © david sperry all rights reserved

Yesterday I jumped on a truck for a better view of the outdoor prayer ceremonies and was offered bread and water by the Haitians already on top. I graciously declined the bread and tried to decline the water but they would not take no for an answer; I placed it next to a lady sitting by me when no one was looking. In past experience death and destruction don’t seem to have much effect on me, at least in the short term. Yet it took all my energy to fight back tears the time I was sitting on top of that truck. Their generosity was brutally humbling.

Shortly after the prayer ceremonies ended it began to rain. When hurricane season hits in a few months conditions will deteriorate drastically. To what point? My driver Bauvais is optimistic: “Only Jesus knows, only Jesus can choose the rain… But Jesus loves Haiti.”

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 14, 2010

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Taking toll of the damage around Port-au-Prince it is frightening how many of the destroyed buildings were schools and hospitals. Previous to the earthquake tertiary education enrollment was at an estimated 1% and 1 in 3.5 children born never saw their 5th birthday. People seem to be settling into the IDP camps for the long haul, makeshift concrete foundations are being set for tents and two story structures built out of salvaged scraps of wood are beginning to pop up. One tries not to think what the statistics will be in a few years time.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 13, 2010

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Strange how familiar the smell of death is, every few houses the sweet/sour breeze is instantly recognizable. I think it is human instinct.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 12, 2010

copyright © david sperry all rights reserved

“Mister, do you want to see dead bodies? I can show you dead bodies, this morning I saw a dog eating a lady. I am a tour guide, I help the tourists and show them around. I can show you where I saw the dog eating the lady.” The large IDP camp on Champ de Mars/Rue Capois has vendors selling tourist trinkets, local paintings and wooden carvings with the word “Haiti” inscribe across the street from the Plaza Hotel. I am waiting for the Haiti 2010 t shirts.

I spent yesterday figuring out logistics on the ground, sourcing translators and a cheap motorbike driver. I walked around the city getting a feel for the situation, talking with people and listening to their stories. Today I head into Cite Soleil.

Posted in Haiti Earthquake 2010 by davidsperry on February 11, 2010

copyright © david sperry all rights reserved

Arrived in Port-au-Prince last night after 4 days of transit. Driving into PaP was a bit surreal, the bus driver decided to put on pop love songs as we began to enter the capital and catch glimpses of the destruction and IDP camps. Did not get to take many pictures, slept 90% of the ride and arrived when it was dark. This one is from the Dominican side of the Jimani border while waiting for the passports to be cleared – Three Haitian workers unloading a truck of Dominican brown sugar to drive into Port-au-Prince.

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