Written evidence from Martin Plaut, BBC
World Service News Africa Editor |
I write to your Committee in a personal capacity
and I trust you will treat this information accordingly.
I have today returned from a trip to South Sudan
for the BBC World Service and thought the Committee might like
to have a brief impression of the impact of the programming both
in English (via the World Service programmes like the World Today
and Newshour) as well as Focus on Africa and the Arabic Service.
I was in the town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
It is the state capital, with a population of around 54,000, with
perhaps 20,000 returnees in camps around the town. It is predominantly
Christian although the market is run by mainly Northern Muslim
traders. Almost all suffered terribly during the decades of conflict.
I can honestly say that almost everyone we spoke
to knew of and respected the BBC. And almost all listened on shortwave
radio. Whether they were returnees who had come back after spending
years in the North or the governor, who had spent years fighting
the government in Khartoum as a member of the SPLA high command,
every section of the community relied on the BBC output in one
form or another.
It was a really humbling experience.
I attach a photograph of one of two restaurants which
title themselves "BBC" in the town.
11 February 2011