The Most Dangerous Place in the World for Journalists
To enter Syria, CBS News foreign correspondent Clarissa Ward has squeezed through holes in fences, waded across canals and slogged through muddy fields in the middle of the night, paying smugglers to help her sneak past government checkpoints.
Once inside, she works under the radar, dependent on ragtag bands of rebel fighters for food, shelter and safety. For locals caught helping a foreign journalist, “It would mean certain death,” says Ward, who speaks “passable” Arabic and has been inside Syria six times in the past year.
These circuitous routes have become commonplace over the past 20 months because President Bashar al-Assad’s government heavily restricts reporting in the war-torn country and issues visas sparingly to journalists.
They operate illegally and hope to avoid run-ins with Syria’s heavy-handed security forces. This enter-at-your-own-risk strategy and the indiscriminate violence sweeping the country have taken a terrible toll.
Twenty-six media professionals have died covering the fighting and five others, including American freelancer Austin Tice, remain missing. Many others have been wounded and kidnapped. The Committee to Protect Journalists has labeled Syria the most dangerous place on Earth for the press.