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Afghanistan: Sgt (Rtd) Jon Bevan's Story

Just a week ago, the last UK troops in Afghanistan handed over Camp Bastion to the local army, marking the end of British combat operations in the country. As the last Welsh troops begin their journey home and we prepare to remember all those who have lost their lives in conflict, we hear the very personal stories of people in Wales whose lives have been forever changed by the war in Afghanistan.

Wales This Week: The War That Changed My Life tonight at 8pm

Sgt (Rtd) Jon Bevan deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009 Credit: Jon Bevan

Sgt (Rtd) Jon Bevan, a former MOD cameraman, deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009. As a cameraman, he tried to catch as true a picture as possible in order to reflect the war back home in the UK. In order to do this, he had to be right on the soldier’s shoulders - often putting himself in danger.

Afghanistan is unlike any other place I have ever visited in my life. One minute I could be there as a photographer experiencing an absolute beautiful sunrise over the hills up in the Kajaki mountains. Taking pictures of silhouettes... and then the next minute the silence is broken with the sound of an RPG fired at you over the head and then literally the next hour there is absolutely mayhem. Machine gun fire, F15s swooping down, 500lb bombs being dropped. All in the space of an hour - and then there is the silence again and then you are back for breakfast just chatting about what has just happened.

– Jon Bevan

But, he says, the hardest part was meeting and filming soldiers as they go about their daily duties and then being told he has to film their funerals soon after.

I have been to so many military funerals - I’m talking hundreds - and the last post, to me, it fills me with an awful lot of emotion. I just feel overcome with emotions for all the people that I have photographed - and guilt, because I have survived and they haven’t.

– Jon Bevan

He says the fighting had dramatically changed shape by the time he deployed to his second tour.

I suppose when I look at Afghanistan, my first tour out there in 2007 as a photographer, the fighting was very kinetic - they wanted to take you on. Literally, in some instances, it would be hand-to-hand and the fighting would be in such close proximity, the soldiers even had bayonets fixed to their weapons. When I went back to Afghanistan in 2009, the schematics of the war fighting had completely changed because they resorted then to dirty tactics. The Taliban weren’t taking you on in a direct fight - they were now just planting IEDs.

– Jon Bevan

Hear the rest of Jon's story with others who have either served or lost loved ones due to the war in Afghanistan on Wales This Week: The War That Changed My Life - tonight at 8pm.


AMs unite over cross-party statement on Ebola

The Ebola virus has already claimed 4,500 lives Credit: PA

Ebola continues to ravage Africa, with Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea among the worst affected. Today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has given his backing to Oxfam's appeal for action to tackle the virus.

The number of Ebola cases, and suspected Ebola cases, is almost 9,000, claiming more than 4,500 lives. The number of cases is doubling about every 20 days, and the World Health Organisation is now reporting that there may be 10,000 cases a week by early December without major action.

Many Assembly Members have put their names to a cross-party statement on the crisis.

It says the National Assembly for Wales:

  • Notes the United Nations and WHO's appeal that "the international community has a 60 day window to stop the spread of the Ebola virus from reaching catastrophic levels".
  • Recognises Welsh civil-society's longstanding relationship with the people of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
  • Calls on the people of Wales, as well as other nations, to support the work of NGOs such as Oxfam in their effort to deliver humanitarian aid and undertake preventative measures to stop the spread of Ebola in those communities.

First Minister backs call for action on Ebola

Training sessions on how to tackle Ebola have been taking place across the world Credit: PA

The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has given his backing to a charity's call to combat Ebola. Oxfam is calling for continued and sustained pressure to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

I am delighted that the First Minister is able to support this appeal. Oxfam and other NGOs are currently working to prevent a crisis from developing into a tragedy.

The situation in West Africa could be turned around but this requires an extraordinary outlay of resources, effort and political will, in recognition of the huge long-term impacts of this crisis, in West Africa and beyond, if the UN plan is met, and the unimaginable consequences if the epidemic is not contained.

– Kirsty Davies, Oxfam Cymru


Anti-ISIS protesters apologise for causing disruption on Severn Bridge

Anti-ISIS protesters who held a demonstration on the M4 Severn Bridge yesterday have apologised for causing disruption. Protesters from the Kurdish Society in Wales told ITV News that they want more to be done to protect Iraqi Kurds from ISIS.

Read More: Protest over ISIS treatment of Iraqi Kurds

M4 protest over as traffic starts moving freely

Gwent Police has confirmed the protest on the M4 this afternoon is now over.

Officers attended the Severn Crossing crossing where a number of protestors - in around ten vehicles - staged an anti-ISIS demonstration on the westbound stretch of the bridge over treatment of Iraqi Kurds.

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