We Have to Stop the Slaughter; with Syria in Turmoil, Paddy Shennan Speaks to Paul Conroy Who Was Lucky to Escape the Country with His Life

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), June 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

We Have to Stop the Slaughter; with Syria in Turmoil, Paddy Shennan Speaks to Paul Conroy Who Was Lucky to Escape the Country with His Life


INJURED Liverpool photographer Paul Conroy faces many more months of operations, skin grafts and physiotherapy after his left leg was blasted apart in a bomb attack in Syria.

But, if fit, he'd have no hesitation in returning to the crisis-hit country.

And yet the question is irrelevant, because Paul, 47, from Anfield - who is currently walking with a stick and last week underwent his 11th operation in a London hospital - believes it could be another year before he knows how much his leg will be capable of doing.

But he speaks of his heartbreak and frustration regarding the recent massacres in Houla and Qubair, where a total of 186 people are said to have been killed - as these are the kind of horrific events he predicted when he returned to the UK at the start of March.

The married dad-of-three, who lives in Totnes, Devon, was trapped in Homs for five days following the February 22 blast which killed his Sunday Times colleague Marie Colvin and French photographer Rmi Ochlik.

I ask if he would like to be back in Syria and, in a bid to explain the motivations of war correspondents, he recalls a conversation he and Marie had the night before she died.

He says: "Marie looked at me and said 'Even if I wasn't getting paid I'd be here' and she said I was the same - and I nodded and laughed. It's not a job, per se, it's more vocational.

"It was a very poignant converstion to have with Marie. The bond we forged working under the conditions we had to work in was extremely strong. We were both in our element. Half of the challenge is to get into a place and we were there and on top of the story. We obviously had something, because after we put it out the shells came down."

But Paul, who last year provided special reports for the ECHO documenting the uprising in Libya, was lucky.

After being brought back to the UK, he told the ECHO: "I felt a huge pressure on my left leg. I put my hand down - and straight through my leg ... I was confident I could stop the blood and knew I had 15 minutes - I was 15 minutes away from death. But, thankfully, I got the help I needed."

Paul described Marie as "one of the bravest, most tenacious and most honest reporters the world has seen in decades" - and today says: "It's hard to see where the next generation of war correspondents is going to come from. …

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