A Witley parish councillor has travelled to Israel and the West Bank, part of occupied Palestine, to act as a human rights monitor.

Councillor Debby Flack has swapped Surrey for the West Bank as part of an international programme called the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

She will be working alongside Palestinian and Israeli peace groups, providing a protective presence to communities at risk of violence as a result of the military occupation.

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

“I have always had a keen interest in the community I live in as well as the broader world,” she said.

“EAPPI provides me with a unique opportunity to be with people who don’t usually have their voices heard. I hope to walk alongside those working for peace in a different part of the world.

“It is always a humbling experience to be with those who are able to maintain love and kindness in their hearts when surrounded by violence and insecurity.

Equality and justice matter to me in Israel-Palestine as much as they do in Surrey.”

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 five human rights monitors – called Ecumenical Accompaniers – are placed in seven locations across the West Bank.

Debby will work predominantly in the South Hebron Hills which she said “is an extremely daunting and important location, full of challenges”.

On her return, Debby will be hosting a number of talks and events across the UK to tell the stories of the people she meets.

Anyone interested in hosting such a talk, hearing more about these or hearing from Debby while she is in Israel-Palestine, should email [email protected]