Saleyha Ahsan (Broadcast journalist and filmmaker) from CRASSH’s Healthcare in Conflict research network speaks to Channel 4 News’ International Editor, Lindsey Hilsum.

Saleyha Ahsan: 94 journalists and media workers were confirmed dead according to the Committee to Protect Journalists in Gaza and in the West Bank, many agency Palestinian journalists are having to stop working due to repeated and increasingly violent attacks – how is this affecting how you and your editors plan to cover the story?

Lindsey Hilsum: All news organisations, including C4N, have colleagues in Gaza. We worry about them all the time. The work they have been doing is tremendous and unbelievably dangerous, even as they have to look after their families. We do all we can to support our colleagues, but we cannot protect them from air strikes. We use news agency pictures, as well as video shot by our own stringer and verified social media footage to show what’s going on, as well as interviews with eye-witnesses inside Gaza and those who have recently left. None of it compensates for not being on the ground.

SA: A letter signed by more than 50 journalists calling on Israel and Egypt to provide free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media in the news – if they allow access – the risks are significant. How does this compare to other wars you have covered?

LH: I think Gaza is more dangerous than most conflicts, because it is so difficult to escape from air strikes and other attacks, which in some places have been constant. Also, reports from the Committee to Protect Journalists and others suggest that our Gazan colleagues have been targeted by the Israelis, hence the high death toll. The breakdown of law and order because people are desperate and hungry is another potential danger. A ceasefire would make it easier for journalists, as well as for Gazans.

SA: Can you give a brief update on the work of the Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network – and how are you working to prepare female journalists the network supports for this landscape where they are potential targets?

LH: The Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network – MCJN – has eight members in Gaza. We provide support through grants for equipment lost in airstrikes and other emergency needs. Our Network Manager, Dima Hamdan, spends a lot of her time talking to them and to other members across the Middle East to see how we can help. We provide introductions to potential outlets for their work, hostile environment training, networking opportunities including with editors, emergency grants and counselling.

SA: It’s been recently 12 years since your dear friend Marie Colvin was killed – how has that impacted you and how you work?

LH: I think of Marie a lot. She would be determined to tell the story of what is happening to civilians in Gaza. Nor would she forget the Israeli hostages. She is an inspiration to us all. I miss her a lot. I’m in Jerusalem now and would just love to have a drink with her at her favourite hotel, the American Colony.

SA: We saw you on the frontlines of Ukraine – how did that experience  and what you saw impact you?

LH: Well, every experience affects you. Like others, I was shocked to be reporting a major war in Europe in 2024. I was in Ukraine in 2014 and in Kosovo in 1999, but this is a bigger war, obviously, with even bigger geo-political implications. As I try to make sense of it all I have been reading a lot of poetry, which I have turned into a book. ‘I Brought the War With Me; Stories and Poems from the Front Line’ comes out in September.

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News’ International Editor, has covered major wars, most recently Ukraine and Gaza. Her book, In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin won the James Tait Black Award in 2019. Her next book, I Brought The War With Me; Stories and Poems from the Frontline will be published in September. She is a founder and trustee of the Marie Colvin Journalist Network, an NGO supporting Arab women journalists.
Lindsey will be a panellist at the Cambridge Festival event: The challenges of delivering healthcare and telling the story in a war zone.

Joining Lindsey will be Dr James Campbell (Director of Health Workforce at the World Health Organisation), Rob Williams (CEO of the War Child Alliance), Toby Cadman (barrister and international law specialist) and Dr Saleyha Ahsan (moderator).

20:00 – 21:45 on Thursday 21 March 2024
Cambridge Union Society, 9A Bridge Street, CB2 1UB
Further details and booking



Tel: +44 1223 766886