Giovanni Porta

Giovanni Porta was born in Rome in 1961. After receiving a degree ‘cum laude’ in Political Science from Milan’s State University he moved to the USA to complete his studies. Upon his return to Italy, he got hired by “Panorama” Weekly, the then leading Italian newsmagazine, to work as foreign correspondent. From 1988 till 1991 he reported from Western and Eastern European countries, the Soviet Union and several Arabic nations, before becoming the magazine’s war correspondent in the Balkans, covering the conflicts in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1991 till 1995. In 1995 Giovanni joined Italy’s leading independent news radio network as anchor of current affairs programs and was their special correspondent during the NATO intervention in Kosovo, following on the ground the activities of the KLA insurgency. In 1999 he was asked by the Italian Government to join the OSCE Presence to Albania as Spokesman and Media development Officer after the popular uprising which followed the country’s financial collapse. At the fall of Milosevic’s regime in Serbia, Giovanni was transferred to the newly created OSCE Mission in Belgrade as Head of the Media Development Department, charged with coordinating the mission’s efforts to reform Serbia’s State Radio-television and regulate the local blossoming electronic media market, and tasked with monitoring freedom of the press and minority media. In 2004, he decided to move to the Humanitarian Sector, accepting the position of Director of Operations in Kabul for a French INGO, charged with developing local independent media and training young Afghan journalists, both male and female. After this experience, he moved to Nairobi to work as Regional Representative in charge of Horn of Africa (Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia) for a leading medical INGO, coordinating medical and surgical activities and M&E programs to fight TBC and HIV-AIDS. For his mediation and coordination skills, Giovanni was elected chair of the UN-INGO Consortium coordinating medical assistance to Somalia. In 2006, he accepted a managerial position with Doctors without Borders (MSF) and was tasked with launching an emergency surgical project in war-torn North Sri Lanka. In 2007 he was hired by a Dutch INGO to lead their humanitarian programs in the territories then controlled by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), living and working in the Tigers’ “capital” Kilinochchi, in the Vanni jungle. In this capacity, he faced several humanitarian emergencies during the last year of the Sri Lankan war, coordinating relief and aid efforts for thousands of displaced civilians. In 2009 Giovanni retired from active duty, moving permanently to South East Asia, where he works as a free-lance writer, journalist and photographer, regularly travelling to the Region’s countries. Giovanni fluently speaks English, French and Spanish, has good knowledge of Indonesian and studied Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Albanian. He is a passionate scholar of Asia’s history and cultures and the curator of the news blog “Guns n’ Spices”, a daily reasoned selection of South East Asia’s news and current affairs.