Brecon resident,  Neil Stone, arrived in Israel and the West Bank, part of occupied Palestine, on Saturday July, 1 to act as a human rights monitor, as part of an international programme called the Ecumanical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.

Neil will be providing a protective presence to communities at risk of violence as a result of his military occupation.

This includes for example monitoring checkpoints, farmers trying to access their farmland to work and children trying to get to school.

"I have arrived here at a time of heightened tensions," said Neil, "and whilst it might seem a long way from home events that happen here have an impact far and wide.

"Living and working alongside the people of the occupied territories for several months will enable me to provide witness to the needs of all those who are caught up in the conflict.

"Our international presence is a sign of the need to bring hope and justice if we are truly serious about bringing about a better world for us all to live in."

The EAPPI programme began in 2002 after a plea from Church leaders in Jerusalem to send a non-violent international presence to the region.

It is managed by the World Council of Churches internationally and by Quaker Peace and Social Witness in the UK and Ireland.

Teams of human rights monitors (called Ecumenical Accompaniers) are placed in several locations across the West Bank.

Neil will work predominantly in the South Hebron Hills  which he says "is a daunting but exciting and important location, full of challenges."

On his return, Neil will be hosting a number of talks and events across the region to tell the stories of the people he meets. If you are interested in hosting such a talk or hearing more about these then please contact Neil on: [email protected]