How does a 37-year-old woman from Perth end up in South Sudan negotiating with Generals?
This week, Dateline reporter Amos Roberts meets the Australian frontline aid worker in South Sudan who ‘thinks like a General’, in order to save lives.
As the world’s newest nation tears itself apart, 37-year-old Dorsa Nazemi, a tomboy from Iran who arrived in Australia at 17, is in the thick of it, working in the most dangerous country for aid workers.
Dateline is given rare access to Dorsa, as she heads up operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) across a large rural province of South Sudan, an area where conflict and famine are rife.
She grapples with immense logistical, moral and personal quandaries thrown up by her job.
“I just put myself in the minds of the two parties to the conflict and try to guess where would be the next possible offensive?
“You never know when the first bullet is going to be shot, so you have to be sure that they know that we’re coming. You would be quite naive to think that danger is not around the corner,” said Dorsa.
The people of South Sudan are suffering from one of the world’s worst and least-reported humanitarian catastrophes; a civil war that has driven millions to flee the country and left many more at risk of starvation without foreign aid.
Dora’s parents live in Perth and worry every day for their daughter’s safety. She confesses she doesn’t tell them any details about her job.
Dorsa tells Dateline “If I were to describe my job through a particular emoji it would be the one that keeps hitting its head against the wall or the door.”
“It’s a world of contradictions in South Sudan. One minute you feel peace and beauty… and the next you have to deal with communities fighting and people dying”
Tuesday 27 February at 9.30pm on SBS.