Rob Crilly


June 21, 2010

Taking on the Taliban

THE SLIT in the rock wall is not much to look at: A two-foot wide gap that disappears into blackness. But passing through the nondescript entrance opens up a network of caves and a small insight into the world of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas. This was once a subterranean hideout. The […]


April 5, 2010

My Pakistan Reading List

I move to Islamabad on Wednesday to become The Telegraph’s Pakistan correspondent. Here is my current reading list: In the Line of Fire by Pervez Musharraf – currently still sitting in a warehouse somewhere, and I fear this won’t arrive in time A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif – novels tend to have […]


March 25, 2010

On Expenses

I know no-one will believe me when I say this, but I’ve never been very creative with my expenses. In fact my first ever claim, at The Press and Journal, was returned by my news editor for "letting the side down". A swift tutorial in high teas, good dinners and elevenses followed. A new claim […]


March 4, 2010

New Travelling Companion Needed

My travelling companion for the past four years is slowing down. Sluggish in the mornings and quick to tire in the afternoons, my Sony Vaio is not the machine it was. Not even a new battery has put a spring in its step. So it’s time to find a new laptop. I want a 13.3in […]


February 5, 2010
January 26, 2010

Saving Darfur

My book is all set for its launch next month, which is one of the reasons why my Middle East blog has been a little quiet. Over at South of West though I’ve updated things with a bit more on the book, some endorsements and a list of events to promote Saving Darfur. This year […]


January 11, 2010

The Unbreakable Phone, erm

  Rather predictable, I guess. This is what happens when you challenge someone to test your "unbreakable" phone on the telly. But I’m pleased to report that my Sonim is still going strong despite plenty of spills and thrills…  


January 10, 2010

Aid and Activism for Gaza

  I spent five years living and working in Africa. The more time I spent there the more I became interested in the debate about how to best fix the problems of its many troubled nations. In particular, how do the different roles of humanitarian aid and advocacy fit together? The complementary but sometimes contradictory […]


December 28, 2009

Golden Balls of Joy

This was my Christmas Eve feast. And a new challenge is unveiled – the hunt for the best felafel. So far Afteem, just around the corner from Manger Square in Bethlehem, is in pole position. The fat, golden balls arrived fresh from the fryer, the outside crisp and crunchy and the inside was soft and […]


December 1, 2009

Israel Defense Forces Move into Social Media

 This from Haaretz… The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman’s Office is to begin drafting computer experts with an eye toward establishing an Internet and new media department unit, Army Spokesman Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu said Monday.  Speaking at the Eilat Journalists Conference, Benayahu said the new department would focus on the Internet’s social media networks mainly […]


November 30, 2009

One Step at a Time

    I haven’t done a very good job, but in my posts about Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan I’ve tried to avoid using a know-it-all, old-Africa-hand tone. But the truth is that from the moment they were kidnapped it was obvious that they had only themselves to blame. There’s nothing wrong with throwing yourself […]


November 26, 2009

Gazelles Halt Development Plans in Jerusalem

Yesterday, Benjamin Netanyahu announced a partial settlement freeze in the West Bank. The Palestinian leadership says it does not go far enough particularly as Netanyahu has repeatedly gone out of his way to insist that there is no deal to be done in East Jerusalem – an area which is now the main hurdle to […]


November 25, 2009

Journalists Freed in Somalia

It’s wonderful news that the two journalists kidnapped last year in Mogadishu have been freed today after 15 months. The dribs and drabs of news coming out of Somalia have at times suggested Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan might not survive. Both had been desperately ill and rumours circulated constantly that, with little prospect of […]


November 18, 2009

So You Wanna be a Stringer?

I spent five years as a stringer for various British, American and Irish news organisations in Africa. I built my portfolio up from scratch until I was the first port of call for up to a dozen newspapers and radio stations. The money was good, the hours flexible enough for the occasional 18 holes in […]


November 15, 2009

Obamarama in Jerusalem

Shashank has resurrected Obamarama over at his Somewhere in Africa blog so after a couple of weeks driving past Pizza Obama I decided to pay the place a visit. It had a fridge full of beer and racks of thin crust pizza – along with a Kosher certificate and what I have learned is a […]


October 29, 2009

My Reading

There was little rhyme nor reason to my book buying before moving to the Middle East. My mind and reading were still rather engaged with Sudan, and so I tended to pick up whatever I spotted in second hand book shops – mostly the Oxfam in Crouch End. So my little bookshelf in my friend’s […]


October 25, 2009

The Story Changes, Sometimes

A few weeks ago I posted that it was time for a change after living for five years in Africa. The same stories were coming around again and again and it was time to look for new stories in a new location. So I’ve landed in Tel Aviv ready for a fresh challenge back on […]


October 17, 2009

Darfur: A New Deadly Chapter… Or Maybe Not

The Independent’s splash makes for powerful reading… The Lord’s Resistance Army, one of the most feared guerrilla groups in Africa, has moved into Darfur, one of the continent’s most troubled regions, intelligence sources in Sudan say. The unexpected move by the LRA comes just as the war-weary west of Sudan recedes from world headlines and […]


October 15, 2009

Bussmann’s War

The problem with books on Africa – and writing about the continent in general – is that they tend to take themselves rather too seriously. Po-faced is apparently the best way to observe the continent’s daily struggles with war, famine and disease. Never mind that so many of the underlying causes are the result of […]


October 13, 2009

Air Miles and God

The Archbishop of Canterbury has waded into the air miles debate. In an interview with The Times, Dr Rowan Williams said that families needed to respond to the threat of climate change by changing their shopping habits and adjusting their diets to the seasons, eating fruit and vegetables that could be grown in Britain. He said […]


October 6, 2009

A Black and White War on the Dark Continent

 No-one reported the second press release: Shegeg Karo village in North Darfur was bombed repeatedly by an Antonov aircraft on Sunday, May 4th. The bombing happened between 2-3pm, not at 4pm as reported in the May 5 press release from “Darfur Diaries”. The Shegeg Karo market was hit directly and was completely burned, as confirmed […]


September 10, 2009

I Went to Africa and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

I struggle slightly with the vogue for personalising conflicts around the globe so that they always end up being more about us than them (Not in Our Name, wristbands, boycotts of Israeli produce) and turning campaigning into a T-shirt and lifestyle. Sometimes it is a neat way of making people care about things going on […]


September 7, 2009

I Think You’ll Find It’s a Bit More Complicated Than That

I’ve long been a fan of Ben Goldacre’s column Bad Science in The Guardian and his blog. It won’t surprise you to know that his use of rational thought and scientific evidence to dispel deliberate quackery and ill-thought out mumbo jumbo – take the MMR nonsense or homoeopathy – is rather popular in these quarters. […]


August 30, 2009

Evidence vs Dogma in Darfur

After six years of violence, the war in Darfur is over, according to a man who should know. General Martin Luther Agwai was handed mission impossible two years ago – setting up the joint UN and AU peacekeeping job. In an interview with the BBC, as he prepares to step down as force commander, General […]


August 25, 2009

Swashbuckling Adventurers

This from a recent exam sat by City University journalism students: In popular legend dating from the Crimean War to the Vietnam War, foreign correspondents had a reputation as swashbuckling adventurers. What is the workaday reality for foreign correspondents today? In what ways have the job, and the typical profile of those doing it, changed? […]


August 21, 2009

Junk Bonds

Interesting story in The Times yesterday, using the Big Mac as a new index of earning power. Tokyo workers have to spend only 12 minutes at their desks before they can buy a Big Mac for lunch, while their counterparts in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, have to work for more than two and a half […]


August 13, 2009

A Different Type of Food Security

There’s no need to bore you with my frankly hilarious attempts at reintegrating into western, capitalist society. Yesterday I got to grips with London’s Oyster card. Tomorrow I might try scanning my own groceries at Tesco. There are lots of differences from my old life in Africa, and I suspect you’d get tired of my […]


August 8, 2009

Dirty, Not Very Sexy Money

  Cleared out my bedside table of five years of spare cash. There are torn notes from Ethiopia, Chad, Uganda and Tanzania. Smart colourful ones from Botswana, South Africa and Ghana. Assorted handfuls from Liberia, Sudan, Mozambique, Rwanda and the DRC. Then there is the fun stuff from holidays – India, the UAE and plastic […]


July 28, 2009

Here’s What I Won’t Miss

NAIROBI LETTER: THE POLICEMAN tucked his AK-47 under his arm and swaggered out of the dark towards the door of my car. As he reached my open window though, it became clear that his lurching walk was not so much of a swagger as a stagger… You can read the rest in yesterday’s Irish Times


July 27, 2009

The Worst Book on Uganda Ever?

Well that’s blown it. There’ll only be one book on Africa that anyone buys this year, Jane Bussmann’s comedy romp through Uganda in pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army and John Prendergast. Now I’m all for irreverent humour and bad taste jokes in the cause of satire. But this review in The Guardian makes the […]