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Organised by Health Systems Strengthening in North Syria and the Research for Health in Conflict, Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project at King’s College London, and Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge.

Thursday April 1st, 5pm London, 6pm Geneva, 7pm Beirut

Please register here


Film screening and panel discussion with:

John Simpson (BBC) Panel chair

Darren Conway (Director / Cameraman)

Dr Saleyha Ahsan (Medic and PhD student, Cambridge)

Hamish de Bretton Gordon (Chemical and counter terrorism expert, visiting fellow, Magdalene College, Cambridge)

John Jaeger (co-founder and CEO of Hala Systems)

Our R4HC colleague Dr Karem Ekzayez will provide a short introduction


The Research for Health in Conflict project at Kings College, London and the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge are hosting a special film screening of an extended 45 minute version of the BBC Panorama Syria’s Schools Under Attack. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A chaired by the BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson including the film’s maker Darren Conway.


The war in Syria is in its tenth year. It has become a protracted humanitarian disaster unlike anything seen since World War Two. This webinar and our panellists will provide unique insights into one crucial aspect of the conflict – the targeting of civilian public services such as schools and hospitals.

Thousands of schools have been totally or partially destroyed during the Syrian conflict. Iqra School in Aleppo was one of those, bombed by a fighter jet in 2013. Some pupils were killed immediately and more died of horrific injuries soon after. A BBC Panorama team were filming in a hospital nearby and captured the desperate attempts to save lives after the attack. Eight years later, Panorama has met with survivors and relatives of those killed and injured to discover how profoundly their lives have changed as a result of that day.

Panel bios

John Simpson, CBE

John Simpson is the BBC’s World Affairs editor and Foreign Correspondent, having reported from more than 120 countries and thirty war zones. He has interviewed many of the world’s most prominent figures including leaders throughout his career. He read English at Magdalene College, Cambridge and was editor of Granta magazine.


John’s career has been recognised through numerous awards including an International Emmy for his report for BBC 10O’clock News on the fall of Kabul, a Peabody award and three BAFTAs.


Darren Conway, OBE

Darren Conway, or DC as he is widely known, has been documenting global events for almost three decades and has been described as “the foremost television cameraman of his generation”. DC is an international news gathering and documentary film maker for the BBC and has covered most of the worlds conflicts during his career. His accolades include winning the Royal Television Society’s ‘Cameraman of the Year’ six times, and he was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to British broadcast journalism.


Dr Saleyha Ahsan 

Saleyha Ahsan is an emergency medicine doctor and a broadcaster (BBC, ITN, Channel 4). She is also currently studying for a PhD at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where she is investigating the impact of attacks against healthcare in conflict zones. Her interest in the subject began when she was a serving officer in the regular British Army on deployment in Bosnia in the 1990s. Her film and broadcast work has covered Syria, Libya and most recently the NHS COVID19 pandemic for Channel 4 Dispatches.


Hamish de Bretton Gordon, OBE

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon OBE, is one of the world’s leading experts on chemical and biological counter-terrorism. He is co-founder and director of Doctors Under Fire with Professor David Nott, where he helps civilians with the threat from chemical weapons. He advises the UK Government at the highest level on CBRN –including the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury in 2018. He frequently appears in global media as an expert commentator. He is currently a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Magdalene College Cambridge.

John Jaeger

John Jaeger is the co-founder and CEO of Hala Systems – a company that develops advanced solutions for protection of life and infrastructure in conflict zones. Hala systems, a U.N. partner is now used in Syria to help warn people of incoming airstrikes to allow them time to escape. It has saved countless lives.


Please register here


For further information please contact

Dr Adam P. Coutts: apc31@cam.ac.uk

Dr Saleyha Ahsan: sa2027@cam.ac.uk

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