Sally Becker

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Sally Becker is an author and former leader of Operation Angel, a British charity.[1] She has spent time volunteering in Bosnia and Kosovo and is credited with saving hundreds of lives.[2]

Volunteering in Bosnia[edit]

Moved by the images of suffering coming out of Bosnia, Becker set off to the war-torn region of Bosnia-Herzegovina determined to try to help. Based on the outskirts of Mostar, a city where Croats and Muslims were fighting for control, Becker began by delivering aid to the west side of the city and soon became a familiar sight as she drove in and out of the city in an old Renault 4. As one of the few foreign aid workers able to travel freely in the area, she was asked by a UN officer to try and gain access to the east side of the city where 50,000 Bosnian Muslims were trapped. With permission from the Croatian Ministry of Defence she crossed the front line under fire to evacuate wounded children and their families from the besieged hospital. The mission was successful and she became known as the Angel of Mostar. In December 1993 she led a convoy of 50 vehicles and 200 volunteers from Britain to deliver aid and evacuate the wounded from all sides. In Feb 1994, all aid convoys were grounded due to snow. There were many wounded children trapped in the monastery at Nova Bila in central Bosnia. Becker managed to reach the area by helicopter and evacuated 55 wounded children and their families.

Struggles in Kosovo[edit]

When the war spread to Kosovo, Becker and her volunteers brought aid to both sides. As the conflict escalated, the aid agencies pulled out and the borders were closed. After delivering aid to the refugees flooding into Northern Albanania, Becker crossed the mountains on foot to bring medical supplies to a hospital in Junik, a town surrounded by Serb forces. Whilst there, she was asked to help some injured children and their families to escape across the mountains but as they reached the border, the group was ambushed by Serb paramilitaries. As they escaped into the forest, Becker remained behind to help a woman and her two children who were caught in the crossfire. They were forced to surrender and were placed under arrest. The woman and her two children were released the next day but Becker was sentenced to 30 days in prison.

Azem Vllasi the former President of Kosovo, appealed on Becker's behalf and two weeks later she was pardoned. She immediately set about tracing the families who had made it across the border and found them in a refugee camp in Northern Albania. While she was arranging for the children to travel abroad for medical treatment, Becker was shot by masked gunmen. The President of Albania, Rexhep Meidani sent a helicopter to fly her to safety but she refused to abandon the children, remaining in the area until her mission was completed.

Post-war life[edit]

Becker continued her work on behalf of victims of war, opening centres for women and children suffering from trauma. In 2006 she brought aid to people trapped on the Israel/Lebanon border. In 2009, she became a Goodwill Ambassador for "Children of Peace", a multi-faith charity dedicated to building friendship, trust and reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinian children. She is Director of their Youth Ambassador Program.

In 2012, she carried the Olympic flag on behalf of Peace and Justice at the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games.

Her book' 'Sunflowers and Snipers was published by The History Press in Britain and the US.

In 2013, Becker was diagnosed with breast cancer which did not show up on a mammogram or ultrasound. She is using her own experience to try to change the way in which women are screened in the hope that they can be helped before the disease has had a chance to spread. She is also campaigning in support of Lord Saatchi's Medical Innovation Bil.

Becker is a columnist for Diplomacy Post, an online service for the latest news and current affairs. She is also an advisor for the Humanitarian Intervention Centre and a patron of Tell Mama UK.

Olympic Flag bearer[edit]

Becker carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony of London 2012 with Ban Ki Moon amongst others[3]

References[edit]

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