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Conflict and Unrest Continues in Africa - So Be Careful

Monday 19th March 2012

UK Journalists have been freed from Libya while George Clooney was arrested for protesting outside the Sudan embassy in Washington DC.

Two UK Journalists have been freed following their arrests in Libya last month, culminating a week of Africa-related headlines that have stretched across the pond to the unlikely setting of Hollywood, where actor George Clooney was arrested for protesting to warn of a humanitarian crisis in the unstable border between Sudan and South Sudan.

Gareth Montgomery-Johnson and Nicholas Davis-Jones were arrested in Libya last month after admitting entering the country illegally, and were escorted and detained by local militia in Tripoli on the 22nd February, and it was originally perceived that the two men had been spying - something that they could have faced charges for. Despite a video being released with the two men stating they had been well looked-after, Montgomery-Johnson’s family asked for the two to be handed over to Libyan authorities with success, thanks to help from human rights groups. The two men are expected back into the UK after it became obvious they had committed no crime, but this serves as a timely reminder of the sensitivities in Africa. Take a look at the insurance and visas section on Gapwork to make sure you have the right paperwork before you set off on your gap year in Africa!

In more Africa-related news, Hollywood star George Clooney was arrested last week, along with his father Nick, for protesting outside the Sudan embassy in Washington DC. The actor has been a Sudan activist for a good few years and has visited the area several times, but he wasn’t the only high-profile name to be arrested at the same time. Martin Luther King III, son of the infamous civil rights icon, was also arrested as were a number of other protesters. Just a day before the arrests took place, Clooney had met with Barack Obama and discussed the Sudan situation, after recently visiting the Sudan border in secret. The conflict in Sudan has been growing since the country split into two, when South Sudan claimed its independence in 2011. The area has suffered from nearly twenty years of conflict that led up to the independence from Sudan, and has resulted in a severe lack of roads, railways, schools and medical clinics, all of which outline the severe problems that poorer countries in Africa are facing on a day to day basis.

These are just two examples of what are regular occurrences in some African countries, and good reminders of how far there is still to go in order to prevent Africa’s problems from worsening. If the likes of George Clooney are prepared to get arrested, it means that raised awareness of the subject at hand will be achieved, but should only be used as a starting point to spring further action. It also serves as a reminder to those considering a gap year in Africa to be wary of potential hazards in the region that you are visiting, and to keep yourself updated with the problems in the area before you jet off. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have current travel advice for African countries. Some problems in Africa need gap year volunteers. For ideas on where you can volunteer in Africa on a year out, visit our volunteer section or our Africa destination page.