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Brave Kiwis Find Hope In Hell

One of the world’s worst humanitarian crises - and the brave Kiwis finding Hope in Hell - is explored through a new digital interactive series launching today.

Stuff journalists Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor spent ten days in South Sudan, immersed in the flooding, famine and violence that is a constant reality for half of South Sudan’s 12 million citizens.

“South Sudan is a tenuous place,” says Vance. “A bloody civil war has ravaged the country and despite a peace-deal being signed in 2018, warring factions are struggling to form a government. It’s one of the most dangerous places in the world to deliver aid.”

Ex-Labour Party leader David Shearer is in the thick of it. He leads one of the United Nations biggest operations with a mission to protect South Sudan’s vulnerable citizens, smooth the way for aid to get where it’s needed and investigate human rights abuses.

Vance and McGregor accompanied Shearer on a trip to Lankien, a stronghold of anti-Government forces, as well as Bor, Pibor and Akobo.

“I reported on Shearer’s time as leader of the Labour Party, so it was fascinating to watch him in this incredibly tough role, in one of the most dangerous places in the world.

“In this job, we observed him as part politician, easing along the peace process; part army general, summoning up resources to deal with frequent outbreaks of violence; and part humanitarian, because the UN Mission facilitates the delivery of a tremendous amount of emergency aid.”

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Other Kiwis making a difference in South Sudan also feature in the series.

Four Kiwi soldiers play a critical role in Shearer’s team, assessing need, protecting civilians and keeping the peace - not to mention protecting Shearer as one of the UN’s top officials.

Fiona Lithgow, born in Waikato, runs the World Food Programme, saving the lives of thousands of women and children every year.

Owen Calvert, a project manager from Central Otago, leads the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation which focuses on increasing agricultural productivity and managing natural resources.

“South Sudan is a grim place, but amongst the misery, sorrow and starvation there is hope,” says McGregor. “Hope in Hell shows the important role Kiwis are playing in forging a brighter future for the people.”

Hope in Hell is a three-part series, produced with funding from NZ On Air.

Part One is available now on or here.


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