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Civil Society
Jonathan Whittall
Humanitarian advisor: Medecins Sans Frontieres,
Jonathan Whittall wants to make it clear that he does not encourage what he calls "bleeding heart liberalism". He wants South Africans to be active in their fight against social injustice.

Whittall, who hails from and lives in Johannesburg, is humanitarian advisor for Medecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors without Borders). This means that he works on advocacy and analysis in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Ethiopia, among other countries, to which he travels regularly.

He has been with the organisation since 2008, during which time he has been head of the programmes unit of MSF South Africa and head of mission in South Sudan and Pakistan. He was also a member of the emergency team that responded to the xenophobic violence in South Africa in 2008, the floods in Pakistan in 2011 and the military crackdown in Bahrain, where he was when this profile was written.

Whittall has a master's in humanitarian studies from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in England. He first experienced humanitarian work after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and since then hasn't looked back. His advocacy work has included lobbying the United Nations and several governments about Zimbabweans seeking refugee status in South Africa, and the manipulation of aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He has written articles for the Mail & Guardian and for academic journals on topics including Darfur and Palestine and has worked with humanitarian organisations in Darfur and Uganda.

With so much to fight for, Whittall thinks it's important that people in South Africa recognise the need for activism on an individual level. "I want others to also do something and not out of 'charity' but out of a deep anger at injustice and inequality," he says. - Ilham Rawoot