Gaby Rado Award

James Astill for reports from Democratic Republic of Congo for The Guardian, The Observer and Newsnight

James Astill

James Astill's articles on the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Guardian focus on Rwanda's role in the conflict and the weakness of UN peacekeeping efforts in north eastern Ituri province.

In March 2003, Rwanda's parliament authorised President Paul Kagame to re-invade the DRC, and action that would have crushed a fragile inter-Congolese peace process, and prolonged the misery of eastern Congo's brutalised people.

James Astill examined the veracity of Rwanda's claim of a threat from remnants of the Hutu militia who fled into DRC after the Rwandan genocide. James Astill was the first journalist into Bunia, the capital of Ituri province, when Ugandan troops withdrew in line with a UN-sponsored peace accord. But no serious arrangement had been made to fill the inevitable power vacuum. The mostly Uruguayan peacekeepers in Bunia were ill-equipped, ignorant of local politics and authorised only to defend UN facilities.

The result was carnage.

The Nomination

Over the past three years, almost his entire career, James has fought harder than any other foreign journalist to publicise Congo's disaster. He has spent many months there, particularly in the ravaged east of the country, talking to the victims and the perpetrators of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. As a result, the Guardian has devoted more space to Congo's war than any other British newspaper.

Maggie O¹Kane, editorial director, Guardian Films