From Our Own Correspondent Podcast

From Our Own Correspondent Podcast

By BBC Radio 4

Insight, wit and analysis as BBC correspondents, journalists and writers take a closer look at the stories behind the headlines. Presented by Kate Adie and Pascale Harter.


Mississippi: After the Tornado

Kate Adie presents stories from the US, Indonesia, Finland, Turkey and Australia
30/03/23·28m 35s

Ukraine’s Second Spring Of War

Kate Adie presents stories from Ukraine, Malawi, Switzerland and Germany. Bakhmut has long been a prize for Russian forces since it invaded Ukraine a year ago. Tens of thousands of troops have died in a protracted fight for the city, in what is the longest battle of the war so far. Quentin Sommerville has been travelling through the front line, and reveals the changing nature of the war. A 14-day period of national mourning is underway in Malawi, after more than 200 people died when the country was hit by Cyclone Freddy. More than 200,000 people have been displaced. Rhoda Odhiambo visited Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, which is among the worst-affected areas. South Korean pop culture has taken the world by storm in recent years, with K-Pop superstars like BTS and BlackPink scoring number one hits around the world. Korean TV dramas have also been a huge hit - and Sophie Williams says one show in particular has put a small village in Switzerland on the map. In Germany public nudity has a long tradition, but the question of whether the freedom to go naked in public was a legal right was unclear until two women challenged orders asking them to cover up in a public swimming pool. Jenny Hill reports from Berlin. Series Producer: Serena Tarling Researcher: Beth Ashmead Production coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
25/03/23·28m 18s

Jeremy Bowen: Memories of Iraq

Kate Adie presents stories from Iraq, on the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion, Brazil and Colombia. The BBC's International Editor Jeremy Bowen first reported from Iraq in 1990, and went on to visit the country on many more occasions - including during the US-led invasion in 2003. Twenty years on since the start of that war, he charts how events during the decade prior shaped the country's destiny. The city of Fallujah has had to rebuild many times following the invasion by coalition forces, which was followed by the Iraqi insurgency and a takeover by Al Qaeda and Isis. Leila Molana Allen speaks to residents of the city about their memories of the last 20 years, and what life is like today. In Brazil, measures have been taken to enshrine protection for those who are overweight, including preferential seats on subways, larger desks in schools and an annual day to promote the rights of obese people. But despite these moves, it can take longer for societal attitudes to change, says Bob Howard. And we're in Colombia on a journey by ferry on the Magdalena river to the old colonial trading hub, Mompox, which later became crucial to the fight for independence. The ripple effects of this region's rich history are still felt today, says Sara Wheeler. Series Producer: Serena Tarling Producer: Bethan Ashmead Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
23/03/23·28m 26s

Kidnappings in DR Congo

Kate Adie presents stories from DR Congo, Mexico, Hungary, Argentina, and South Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing multiple conflicts over territory, ethnic tensions and minerals. In the last month, fighting between the M23 rebel group and the government is believed to have displaced around 300,000 people. But the presence of other armed groups is making the situation even more perilous. One group, the Allied Democratic Forces, has reportedly killed more than 60 people in recent weeks, and kidnapped many others. Hugh Kinsella-Cunningham spoke to one woman who had recently escaped captivity in Beni territory. The Mexican port of Manzinillo has become a battleground for cartels, as it's where many of the raw materials for drugs such as Fentanyl are imported from Asia. Linda Pressly meets the town's mayor who is trying to turn the tide of crime - and hears of the personal sacrifices she has to make to keep safe. Hungary has faced criticism for its progress on women's rights, but in specific areas of women's healthcare it is leading the way. Rosie Blunt was in Hungary to access care for her endometriosis and found the support on offer was second-to-none. Off the beaten track in north-West Argentina, John Kampfner explores the high peaks and brightly-coloured lagoons that are home to vast numbers of flamingos. He also makes a curious discovery in a local museum, with deep cultural ties to the mountains. Which is the harder language to learn - Welsh, or Xhosa? BBC Wales sports reporter Gareth Rhys Owen recently took a trip to South Africa, where he met rugby legend Makaya Jack – and also met his match when it came to deciding whose mother tongue was hardest to master. Series Producer: Serena Tarling Researcher: Beth Ashmead Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
18/03/23·28m 24s

Protests in Georgia

Kate Adie presents stories from Georgia, Egypt, The Netherlands, Iceland and Brazil.
16/03/23·28m 27s

South Africa’s Rolling Blackouts

Kate Adie presents stories from South Africa, Russia, Japan, New York, and Ukraine. Unprecedented power cuts has seen South Africa's national power company become the butt of jokes, but the continual outages are hitting the country's already struggling economy. Ed Habershon reveals how people adapt when the traffic lights stop working. Vladimir Putin’s sabre-rattling has become a permanent feature on Russian state-run media, since the invasion of Ukraine began. But a more subtle device the Russian President has employed, is to appeal to Russia’s sense of victim-hood. Francis Scarr reveals the impact this daily narrative has had on his old friends in Russia. Japan struggles with diversity and female representation in both its commercial and political spheres. Shaimaa Khalil met Tokyo’s first female district mayor, who is breaking through the barriers of tradition, to ensure women are seen and heard. Puppy ownership saw a surge during the pandemic, as people discovered the joys of a four-legged companion during lockdown. In New York, the dog of choice for many was a doodle – a poodle hybrid. But there is now a growing backlash against the now ubiquitous doodle, as Laura Trevelyan reports from the dog parks of Brooklyn. Transcarpathia, on the far western edge of Ukraine, is a mosaic of nationalities, languages and religious identities which once made up the Austro-Hungarian empire. But the strains of emigration, war, and displaced populations from elsewhere in the country, are erasing cultural differences, and creating a more uniform Ukraine, reports Nick Thorpe. Producers: Serena Tarling & Emma Close Researcher: Beth Ashmead Production coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
11/03/23·28m 40s

Greek Train Crash Triggers Grief And Anger

Kate Adie presents stories from Greece, Turkey, Senegal, Guatemala and Switzerland As relatives of victims in the train crash in Greece mourn their loss, broader questions are being asked about the state management of the railways, unleashing public anger as elections loom. Nick Beake was in Larissa. Turkey has become a top destination for Russia's fleeing the invasion of Ukraine but as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan takes a firmer stance on migration, Russian applications for residency permits are increasingly being rejected. Emily Wither met one Russia who is helping people relocate in Antalya. The African Renaissance statue is the tallest in Africa and towers over Senegal's capital city, Senegal. Rob Crossan scaled the statue on a recent visit and heard how locals see it as more of a national embarrassment, given its exorbitant cost and domineering presence. Tikal national park in Guatemala's north is renowned both for its archaeological significance and biodiversity. The ancient Mayan city was once part of a great trading network- stretching across from Calakmul in Mexico to Copan in Honduras. Beth Timmins explore the area and spoke to locals about its World Heritage status. Xander Brett visits the alpine resort of St Moritz in Switzerland where, for over a hundred years, the 'White Turf horse race has taken place - on snow and ice. He finds that global warming and safety fears are now casting a shadow over this well-attended spectacle.
09/03/23·28m 52s

Nigeria’s Young Voters Find Their Voice

Nigeria's recent presidential election encouraged many young Nigerians to engage with the political process for the first time and cast a vote, despite a backdrop of voter intimidation and claims of election fraud. Yemisi Adegoke says this impetus is set to continue. The sinking of a migrant boat off the coast of Calabria once again highlighted the dangers of migrant crossings on the high seas. Frey Lindsay travelled on a rescue boat run by a charity from Libya to Ravenna and heard from those on board about what they left behind. The verdict in the trial of former Mexican government drug tsar, Genaro Garcia Luna, has been a spectacular fall from grace for a man Mexicans saw as corrupt but untouchable, writes Will Grant. Banana farmers in central Lebanon have been hit hard by the country's financial crisis and the effects of a changing climate. Now they are looking for a new, more reliable crop, says Hannah McCarthy. Nick Sturdee recounts the story of a 56-year-old man who decided to join the Ukrainian army in the fight against Russia after he witnessed a missile attack. On the reporting assignment, Nick was involved in a life-threatening car accident, which threw everything around him into sharp relief. Series Producer: Serena Tarling Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
04/03/23·28m 31s

Uzbekistan’s Winter Energy Crisis

Kate Adie presents stories from Uzbekistan, Turkey, USA, South Africa and Sweden. Uzbekistan is one of the largest gas producers in the world but is in the throes of a full-blown energy crisis. People are struggling to keep warm amid the country's harshest winter in decades. Ibrat Safo reveals how people have taken to cooking outdoors on open fires, as the poor gas supply means it can take an hour just to boil a pot of hot tea. The village of Ovakent in southeast Turkey is known locally as Little Afghanistan. After the catastrophic earthquake last month, the Afghan diaspora - who arrived in Turkey after escaping war in their homeland - are once again living with displacement and uncertainty. Mahjooba Nowrouzi has been to visit the village, which is located near the epicentre of the earthquake. In East Palestine, Ohio, the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals has left many residents fearful of the long-term health effects. Bernd Debusmann Jr travelled to the town, where people expressed their disappointment in the response to the disaster from authorities, leaving them fearful for the future. South Africa is continuing to battle rising inflation and unemployment, with the country's worst social unrest since the end of apartheid a recent memory. But in the picturesque vineyards that surround Cape Town, it’s easy to forget the extent of South Africa’s problems, says Charlotte Ashton as she visits the 'Stellenbosch bubble'. In Sweden’s far north, near the Norwegian border, where the northern lights frequently light up the winter night sky, Matilda Welin embarked on a journey off the beaten track. She recounts an increasingly rare experience – of unlimited access to the natural world. Series producer: Serena Tarling Producer: Louise HIdalgo Production coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
02/03/23·28m 40s

Moldova’s Divided Loyalties.

Kate Adie presents stories from Moldova, Estonia, Cambodia, Chile and the Seychelles. Lucy Williamson visits the Moldovan enclave of Moldova Noua, which has been surrounded by pro-Russian forces since the 1990s. Villagers tell her they feel isolated by pro-Western rhetoric and are being lured closer to Moscow by the cheap energy and lower food prices available in the breakaway Russian-backed region of Transnistria In Estonia's easternmost city of Narva, on the Russian border, Nick Robinson finds there is a generational divide when it comes to views about life under former Soviet rule. Increasingly, locals have to choose which side they're on as they wrestle with the implications of the invasion of Ukraine. Celia Hatton follows the story of stolen Cambodian jewels which have finally been returned from Britain to the southeast Asian country. Under the Khmer Rouge regime, antiques were looted and sold through dealers in Asia to Europe and the US. She meets an archaeologist who is piecing together her country's lost past. Chile has seen some of its worst wildfires in years, with forests destroyed, crops ruined and homes burnt to the ground. More than 25 people have been killed. Jane Chambers drove through one of the worst affected regions. The Coco de Mer tree is a much treasured species that can only be found on two islands in the Seychelles archipelago off East Africa. Rhodri Davies discovers how the region has seen a rise in poaching of its highly prized nut, due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
25/02/23·29m 3s

Ukraine: One Year On

Orla Guerin, senior international correspondent, reports from Ukraine's east, a region she has covered on different trips during the last year, on the permanent sense of danger lingering there, that has become a way of life since the Russian invasion. Russia Editor, Steve Rosenberg recounts his own feelings of surprise at Vladimir Putin's decision to invade - and how far everyday Russians have swallowed the government propaganda. He explores the motivations as to why this might be. US Editor, Sarah Smith describes the secrecy surrounding President Joe Biden's surprise visit to Kyiv - and what the political climate is like in Washington amid pledges the US will support the war for 'as long as it takes'. Sarah Rainsford, Eastern Europe Correspondent, has followed the story of Ukrainians fleeing the war from the outset of the invasion. She speaks to those who have only recently fled in Poland's east and what prompted their decisions to leave now. Vitaliy Shevchenko, presenter of Ukrainecast, has lost friends during the conflict. Over the last year, he evacuated his parents from Zaporizhzhia, now controlled by Russians, and also watched a broader shift in Ukraine's standing in the world - and that of its leader.
23/02/23·28m 52s

The questions after Turkey's earthquake

Kate Adie introduces analysis and reportage from correspondents in Turkey, Israel, Nigeria, Georgia and South Sudan. While reporting from across southern Turkey after the February 6 earthquake, Nick Beake often came across moments of astonishing kindness and generosity - but also found an incalculable burden of grief and a growing sense of anger. How and why did the natural disaster have such devastating human consequences - and can anyone be held responsible for the deaths and damage? There's a war of words going on in Israel over moves by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to reform the status and powers of the country's Supreme Court. Amid the fervent demonstrations and political horse-trading in and around the Knesset building, Yolande Knell's been hearing the cases for and against the proposed changes to the system. Nigeria is due to elect its next President on the 25th of February, but the scheduled election day comes as the nation grapples with a string of crises. Soaring inflation, burgeoning insecurity and dire fuel shortages have been capped off by currency chaos - as the entire country struggles to find enough cash to pay for its daily needs. Mayeni Jones reports from Lagos. The political career of Mikhail Saakashvili has never been short of passionate rhetoric or dramatic twists, but recently, people in Tbilisi have been worried by a series of images which seemed to show their former President wasting away in a prison clinic. Rayhan Demytrie explains why 'Misha' still provokes strong feelings in Georgia. And: what is really the point of a Papal visit? As Aleem Maqbool followed the route of Pope Francis's recent travels to the D R Congo and South Sudan, he was moved by the joy of the crowds - and considered how Popes can move politicians to act. Producer: Polly Hope Production coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
18/02/23·28m 2s

Rescue hopes fade in Turkey and Syria

Kate Adie presents stories from Turkey, Ukraine, the USA, Sao Tome and Principe and Lithuania. Lyse Doucet has been in Southern Turkey reporting on the earthquake which has devastated towns there and in North West Syria. She describes how the rescue effort has now changed to a recovery mission as hope of finding survivors fades - yet families still hope for miracles. It's four months since Russia first launched a wave of drone and missile attacks aimed at destroying Ukraine's power grid. Millions of Ukrainians have had to put up with regular power cuts, sometimes lasting for days. Paul Adams meets the army of engineers who, despite the huge damage, are busy re-connecting towns and cities. In California selling cannabis for recreational use has been legal since 2016. In Oakland Sharon Hemans hears about a scheme to help communities previously targeted by the so-called War on Drugs make the most of the now legal cannabis trade. She meets one man who's experienced selling cannabis on both sides of the law and hears of the new challenges he now faces. Petroc Trelwany finds the West African island of Principe has such a young population that schools are having to adapt by teaching classes in shifts. At lunchtime when the schools switch over the streets are flooded with students. And it's the 700th birthday of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Lucy Ash visits for the celebrations and discovers a small country determined to stand up for itself and continue the legacy of its medieval founder. Producer: Caroline Bayley Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
16/02/23·28m 35s

Southern Turkey: The Earthquake's Epicentre

Kate Adie presents stories from Turkey, the USA, Myanmar, Italy and Ukraine. Anna Foster has been in Kahramanmaras, the epicentre of the recent earthquake, where diggers work to remove the debris, revealing small personal items that tell of so many lives lost. Even after the rescue teams have left for the day, relatives continue the search for loved ones through the night. President Joe Biden has switched to campaign mode in both his State of the Union speech to Congress and on his recent visit to Florida - celebrating the achievements of his presidency. But a fight looms with Republicans who now control the House, and there are potential trip wires on the road ahead, says Anthony Zurcher. A journalist from Myanmar shares his story of how hope turned to despair when the military seized power in a coup in 2021 - and how he was forced to flee with his family. The regime has used intimidation and harassment to shut down the media, says Rebecca Henschke. In Italy, Daniel Gordon tells the story of a man who managed to escape the clutches of the mafia. Having grown up in a crime family, the man reveals the challenges of leaving 'the family' when he was still a young man, before starting a new life in the north of Italy. And Nick Redmayne takes the ever-punctual Ukrainian Railways overnight sleeper from Poland's far east to Kyiv. As the train departs, following a timetable undeterred by war, Nick chats to his travel companions over cups of hot tea served to passengers in elegant glasses. Producers: Serena Tarling and Louise Hidalgo Editor: China Collins Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
11/02/23·27m 57s

Voices from Syria’s North-West

Kate Adie presents stories from Syria, Nigeria, Romania, Armenia and Pakistan Leila Molana-Allen has spoken to anxious friends and relatives in the Syrian diaspora who are preparing for the worst as roads are blocked and airports closed. Many relief workers are running low on supplies as they battle to reach those stranded. Mayeni Jones has been in the midst of the chaotic fall-out from the Nigerian Central Bank's decision to replace the high denomination bank notes, which led to fights breaking out in banks and long queues forming as the new notes became scarce to find. Paul Kenyon visits the Romanian home of former championship boxer and social media influencer Andrew Tate, who's been detained in the country due to allegations of people trafficking and rape. He finds the house wasn't quite what he expected for someone who boasts about a glamour lifestyle - and went to hear what the locals make of him. A group of teenagers got stranded on the Armenian border after they travelled to Yerevan from Nagorno-Karabakh for the Eurovision Junior Song Contest. Azerbaijani political activists staged a sit in on the only road connection Armenia to the breakaway region and have stopped all civilian traffic from passing. Gabriel Gavin spoke to the children caught in the middle of the conflict. And finally, over this past year, Pakistan has marked the 75th anniversary of its formation. There were many individual stories of communities and families who were split or who chose to relocate and the reverberations of that partition are still felt today. Ash Bhardwaj reflects on his first visit to Pakistan as someone who is half Indian and grew up in England. Producers: Serena Tarling and Louise Hidalgo Editor: China Collins Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
09/02/23·28m 29s

Grief and Grievances in Israel and the Occupied West Bank

After a surge in violence over the last week, in which several were killed in a military raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank and a synagogue attack in Israel, Yolande Knell visited the both areas and spoke to friends and relatives of those who died about their fears for the future. Rob Cameron extols the virtue of the old Soviet escalator in his local metro station in Prague, which is now being upgraded. And, as he sits down with pro-EU President-elect Petr Pavel, after recent elections, he reflects on the tensions between the old Soviet links, and modernisation in the country. In Uruguay, Jane Chambers meets a new breed of cattle rancher - investors based in the city who buy cattle to be managed by local ranchers. She visits the farms beyond the capital, and hears how they've been focused on burnishing their environmental credentials to compete with Brazil and Argentina. In the Canadian province of British Colombia, Mark Stratton visits a non-profit group who've teamed up with first nation people to promote bear tourism, as an alternative to bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest. And finally, former Brussels Correspondent, Adam Fleming returns to Berlaymont three years after Brexit - for a spot of reminiscing over friends made, sleep lost and screeds of reports written on the twists and turns of the Brexit negotiations. Producers: Serena Tarling, Louise Hidalgo and Arlene Gregorious Editor: China Collins and Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
04/02/23·28m 48s

A Mosque Attack in Peshawar

Kate Adie presents stories from Pakistan Ukraine, Gibraltar, Uzbekistan and Namibia More than 100 people were killed in an attack targeting police in a high security mosque in the northern city of Peshawar in Pakistan earlier this week. An investigation is now underway as to how the bomber managed to enter the high-security zone. Caroline Davies went to the city and met some of the survivors. Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky has launched a anti-corruption drive, which led to the resignation of several government and regional ministers. James Waterhouse was in Kyiv and said the upheaval marked a shift in the government’s narrative, with a new focus on accountability. Gibraltar, the British territory which borders Spain, remains deeply patriotic despite its geographical location. Joe Inwood met the chief minister there and discovered how a simple mispronunciation opened up deeper cultural differences. We visit Samarkand in Uzbekistan, for centuries a major trading hub on the Silk Road. But under the former President Islam Karimov, the country experienced economic stagnation and isolation. His successor is trying to revive the economy by boosting tourism. Heidi Fuller-Love went to visit a shiny new complex near Samarkand - a different world from the heritage sites of the old city. And Stephen Moss explores the sand dunes of the Namib desert - one of the most arid places on earth. He finds that, although Chinese investment in nearby Walvis Bay is reaping returns, the wider ecosystem is under threat. Producers: Serena Tarling, Louise Hidalgo and Arlene Gregorius Editor: China Collins Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
02/02/23·28m 31s

A Bitter Winter in Afghanistan

Kate Adie presents stories from Afghanistan, Peru, Russia, the US and Spain As Afghanistan experiences its harshest winter in a decade, Lyse Doucet travels to Salang, the world's highest road tunnel. After roadside service comes to her team's rescue, she visits a struggling family who are cut off from aid and battling to keep warm. Peru is seeing some of its worst clashes since the return of democracy, with protesters demanding that interim president, Dina Boluarte, resign and make way for a general election and a new constitution. Many of the biggest protests were in southern Peru but Mitra Taj spoke to those who took their grievances to the capital, Lima. We meet a drag queen in Saint Petersburg who says Russia's new anti-LGBT law is crushing gay nightlife in the city. Our correspondent Will Vernon discovers this increased censorship also extends to bookshops, streaming services and high street shops -all part of Vladimir Putin's battle against Western values. Barbara Plett Usher was in Washington for the anti-abortion activists' annual March for Life, which has been held every year since the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973. She meets protesters on both sides of the debate, and finds America's battle over abortion is far from over. In Spain, Guy Hedgecoe visits San Fernando, the hometown of the much revered flamenco singer, Camarón de la Isla, where, three decades after the singer's death, his memory is as cherished as the legacy of his music. Producers: Serena Tarling and Louise Hidalgo Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
28/01/23·27m 45s

Ukraine Dreams Of A Different Future

Kate Adie presents stories from Ukraine, Nepal, Iraq, Norway and the US Andrew Harding is at the frontline in Eastern Donbas, close to Russian lines, where soldiers share their dreams of the future after the war, as artillery fire rains down on them. The Yeti airlines crash into a gorge in Nepal last Sunday was the worst in 30 years. Rajini Vaidyanathan saw the grim reality of the crash site and spoke to mourners as they prepared to bury their loved ones. From chocolate biscuits, to porcelain to air-conditioning units, Iranian produce lines the shelves of Baghdad's stores. But despite the strong commercial ties and shared cultural influences, political tensions are flaring in the Kurdistan region of Iraq after the death of Mahsa Amini, writes Lizzie Porter. In Arctic Norway, cod fisherman rely on Russian cooperation to share fish stocks in the Barents Sea equally. Hugh Francis Anderson was in Tromso where he spoke to fisherman increasingly wary that souring relations with Russia could impact their livelihoods. Mark Moran reports from Arizona on the water wars in the state, where rural farmers and ranchers are launching a fightback against the move to divert water to the expanding city of Queen's Creek.
21/01/23·28m 23s

China’s Great Reopening

Kate Adie presents stories from China, Brazil, Sri Lanka, the US and Portugal. China has opened up its borders again ahead of the New Year festival. Late las year, Xi Jinping eased Covid restrictions after anti-Zero Covid protests, which has led to a surge in cases across major cities and provinces. Many in the country are divided about whether to savour their new found freedoms and travel, or stay put to protect elderly relatives, says Stephen McDonnell. The storming of Brazil's congress, presidential palace and supreme court by supporters of Jair Bolsonaro has led many to draw parallels with the attack on the Capitol building in Washington in 2021. Katy Watson looks at who the protestors are and who might be behind them. Zeinab Badawi is in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, where she meets Sinhalese artist, Jagath, whose work mainly focuses on the country's brutal history. She hears the story of how one of his monuments to commemorate those who died in the conflict was destroyed in favour of a new building project. David Adams is in Miami, Florida, where, during a stroll one day, he encounters some iguanas which have fallen from surrounding trees. And although Florida escaped much of the worst of the recent freeze in the US, he reflects on whether these creatures could be a canary in the coal mine for climate change. Alastair Leithead chose to move to southern Portugal for a more settled life, after years on the road as a foreign correspondent. He writes about his experiences of trying to live an off-grid lifestyle - and some of its challenges.
14/01/23·28m 38s

Brazil: United In Grief, Divided By Politics

Kate Adie presents stories from Brazil, Russia, the US, South Korea and Italy Brazilians this week mourned the loss of one of their greatest footballers, Pele, with hundreds of thousands going to view his open casket in Santos. Meanwhile, the politics continue to divide the nation as Lula Da Silva returned to power. Katy Watson was in Brasilia for his inauguration and reflects on the challenges ahead. Vladimir Putin used his New Year address this year to rally the nation once more for war, as festive ice sculptures even depicted military figures. The announcement of a ceasefire for Orthodox Christmas appeared incongruous with Putin's rhetoric and was dismissed by Ukrainians as a plot to stay their advances. Steve Rosenberg was in Moscow as Russians were once more put on a war footing. Linda Pressly has a dispatch from Tucson in Arizona where she met a group of committed Christians helping migrants who've crossed from Mexico into the harsh landscape of the Sonoran desert, and lost their way. This comes as President Joe Biden prepares to visit the border next week. John Murphy visits the rooftop apartments of South Korea's capital Seoul to hear why they hold such appeal for young Koreans - and how economic circumstances, and social expectations are causing some to leave the city altogether. Rome was also in mourning for another iconic figure - of the Catholic church. 50 000 mourners reportedly attended the funeral of Pope Benedict in St Peter's Square and tens of thousands more paid homage to him as he lay in state. David Willey has covered the Vatican for half a decade, and says there is a bigger sea change underway.
07/01/23·28m 56s

A Year in Ukraine

Kate Adie presents a selection of stories from correspondents who have covered the war, from the invasion of Kyiv to the present day. Fergal Keane remembers the beekeepers of the Donbas who he met in 2014, following Russia's annexation of Crimea. As he witnessed the throngs of Ukrainians fleeing war in February of this year, he wonders if he will meet his friends again. Quentin Sommerville reported close to Russian lines in Kharkiv as it came under attack. He reflects on the realities of war and the decision to show dead bodies in his television reporting - to not show them would be a lie, he says. Yogita Limaye writes on the atrocities which emerged in Bucha after Russian forces withdrew, and her encounter with Irina - a woman trying to rebuild her life after she lost her home, and her husband. In July, Orla Guerin reported on the effects of Russia's propaganda machine, and its influence within Russian-speaking communities in Ukraine. Suspicion and mistrust left some locals wondering on whose side their neighbours were on. And acclaimed Ukrainian writer, Andrey Kurkov reflects on his return to Ukraine to celebrate Christmas after several months in Europe and the somewhat muted festivities as the unpredictability of the war continues. Series Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
31/12/22·28m 52s

Friendship, Fury and a French Suit

Kate Adie presents highlights from 2022, beginning in Moscow, where we hear the story of the friendship between BBC Russia editor Steve Rosenberg and Valentina, a vendor at a newspaper kiosk. Earlier this year, Ryanair introduced a compulsory nationality test - in Afrikaans - for South African travellers coming into the UK. Audrey Brown describes what the language means to her as a Black South African and for so many others who grew up under apartheid. Protesters took to the streets in Sri Lanka this year, as the country spiralled into an economic crisis which saw Sri Lankans facing shortages of fuel, food and medicine. Rajini Vaidyanathan was in Colombo. And finally, Emmanuel Macron has been criticised for being out of touch with regular voters, so in the French elections this year he tried a more casual approach - in both manner and attire. Our Paris correspondent, Hugh Schofield, decided upon a makeover of his own, and went in search of a new suit - from the President's own tailor. Series Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
24/12/22·29m 1s

Haiti: A Gangster’s Paradise

Kate Adie presents stories from Haiti, Germany, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Sweden. Orla Guerin reports from Haiti where gangs now control 60 per cent of the capital and surrounding areas. Hundreds of people have been killed amid reports of kidnapping, gang rape and torture. After a far-right coup on the German government was foiled in recent weeks, Jenny Hill visits one of the 'German kingdoms' which espouses the same conspiracy theories as those who were arrested. 56, 000 children in Sri Lanka are suffering from severe malnutrition, according to the UN. Archana Shukla visits a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka where several families are having to cut back on food amid inflation and shortages. Morocco's World Cup performances have surprised many and led to euphoria on the streets of Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech. And, despite France beating them in the semi-finals, the team's earlier successes have changed how Moroccans are seen - and how they see themselves, says James Copnall. And finally, Maddy Savage visits the Sami reindeer herders of Sweden's north to hear how the country's switch to more renewable energy presents its challenges for this community. Series Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
17/12/22·29m 35s

‘Everything that is good has been taken’

Kate Adie presents stories from Ukraine, Iran, Niger, Bhutan and Lithuania. Russian troops captured Irpin, north-west of Kyiv, early on in the invasion. When the satellite town was liberated, the atrocities of Russian soldiers were laid bare. Nick Redmayne spoke to the residents who returned home about how they are trying to rebuild their lives. Following the protests which began in mid-September, after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, news of the first public execution of a protestor in Iran drew international condemnation this week - though protests show no sign of abating. Azadeh Moaveni was in Tehran when the protests began and found the desire for change runs deep in Iranian society. Michela Wrong visits a safe house in Niamey, Niger, where eight elderly Rwandan men are being detained, having been prosecuted for their role in the Rwandan genocide. Four have now been acquitted, and four have served their prison sentences. She hears what happened to them since their trial- and the challenges posed by their rehabilitation. Last year, Bhutan decriminalised homosexuality. Michelle Jana Chan speaks to gay activists, including Miss Universe Bhutan, about how far the population in the Himalayan Kingdom, is keeping step with political change. Lithuania was once the heart of a large empire in the Middle Ages, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Hundreds of years ago, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania invited members of the Karaim community from Crimea to serve as guards and soldiers of an empire. Simon Broughton attended a festival celebrating their culture in Trakai.
10/12/22·29m 26s

From Our Own Correspondent

Kate Adie presents stories from China, Ukraine, Moldova, Zimbabwe and the US. Protests have taken place across China, from Shanghai, to Guangdong to Beijing after a fire in Urumqi killed ten people who were thought to have been under Covid restrictions. Celia Hatton asks whether this is a watershed moment for Xi Jinping and his Zero Covid policy. In Ukraine, a bloody war is being fought in towns and cities in Donetsk, such as Bakhmut and Avdiivka, with high numbers of casualties on both sides. Abdujalil Abdurasulov went to Avdiivka and spoke to some of the 2000 residents who've decided to stay amid intensive shelling, in bombed-out buildings. Joe Inwood goes to neighbouring Moldova where local businesses, including a winery, are trying to switch to renewable energy to avoid the power outages caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Moldova and Ukraine's power infrastructure are intrinsically interlinked, so cities across the country are affected by Russian attacks. In Zimbabwe, despite initial hopes that President Ernest Mnangagwa would bring economic and political stability, the reappearance of road blocks harks back to the regime of Robert Mugabe. Meanwhile inflation is once again soaring, and the country remains locked in an economic spiral, says Kim Chakanetsa. And in Washington DC, the leader of the far-right, anti-government Oath Keepers militia was found guilty of plotting an armed rebellion to stop President Joe Biden from taking office in 2020. Mike Wendling went to Montana to meet the ring leader, Stewart Rhodes' son. Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
03/12/22·28m 50s

A Bleak Future For Afghanistan’s Young Women

Kate Adie presents stories from Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Colombia and Ireland. The Taliban announced a ban on women going to parks, swimming pools and gyms this month, following one on girls attending secondary schools. Yogita Limaye spoke to one young woman about what life is like in Kabul as these once cherished freedoms disappear. The story of Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese human rights lawyer, who was repeatedly detained for his work defending members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and Christians, is a cautionary tale of Xi Jinping's China. Michael Bristow followed his story from his initial arrest in 2006. The UN has said Iraq is the world's fifth most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The country's two main rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris have seen their water levels drop significantly this year as the country experienced one of its worst droughts. Leila Molana Allen spoke to locals about the impact on their livelihoods. Colombia's new leftist president, Gustavo Petro, campaigned on a manifesto of tackling inequality and switching to a greener economy. But rising inflation and a depreciation of the peso has proved a challenge to enforcing his radical agenda. Rohan Montgomery went for a ride with motorcyclists in Medellin and heard their views on life under Petro. The story of the 'Sack of Baltimore', where a village in Ireland's County Cork was ambushed by Barbary pirates, intrigues visitors to the area, in particular to the Algiers Inn. The attack. in 1631, was the worst on Ireland who took their captives back to North Africa and eventually sold them into slavery. Vincent Dowd went to speak to the locals about what happened. Producer: Serena Tarling Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
26/11/22·28m 54s

Letters from Russia

Kate Adie presents stories from Russia, the Netherlands, France, Tunisia and the US. A vocal critic of Putin's invasion of Ukraine writes to Sarah Rainsford from Detention Centre no 5 in Moscow. In those letters, he speaks frankly about the damage wrought by the war and his hopes for a better future after Vladimir Putin. The verdict in the trial of three Russians and one Ukrainian suspected of involvement in the shooting down of passenger jet MH17 disaster in 2014 over Eastern Ukraine, was passed down on Friday. Anna Holligan spoke to families of the victims about whether they felt justice had been done. Lucy Williamson has been on patrol with French border police in Calais and Dunkerque, after a migrant deal was struck between the UK and France this week. Despite the media storm in the UK, she found the view looked very different from the French end. Rob Crossan visits the small Tunisian island of Djerba, where Jews and Muslims co-exist peacefully - something of a rareity in the Arab world - and murals in the winding streets reflect the culture of mutual tolerance. And James Clayton has been getting the word on the street in San Francisco, the home of Twitter, after a turbulent week at the social media platform, and he explores the impact of Elon Musk's takeover. Producers: Serena Tarling and Caroline Bayley Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
19/11/22·29m 28s

Kherson: After the Russian Retreat

Kate Adie presents stories from Ukraine, the West Bank, Pakistan, the US and the Faroe Islands. Jeremy Bowen was in Kherson in Ukraine shortly after the Russians retreated, but he found that occupation and liberation can lead to suspicion and division. There is unease among Palestinians living in the hamlets of Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank as the new Israeli government takes shape. Yolande Knell spoke to villagers there, who found out earlier this year about the Israeli Supreme Court decision to recognise a military training zone around their homes. Samira Hussain attends one of the rallies of former PM Imran Khan on his March to Islamabad and meets him again after an assassination attempt a fortnight later - wounded but determined to continue his political fight. In New York, there's a population explosion - of rats. The mayor has a plan to tackle the problem but requiring residents to put their refuse out after 8pm each night. But there's more to the expanding rat population than meets the eye, finds Laura Trevelyan. And in the Faroe Islands, Tim Ecott is in amidst a sheep mustering where he learns about the local meat-eating tradition, and the desire to be self-sustainable amid the threat of European recession, inflation and the energy crisis. Producers: Caroline Bayley and Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
17/11/22·28m 52s

The Red Wave That Wasn’t

Kate Adie presents dispatches from the US, Australia, Egypt, Portugal and Slovenia The predicted “giant red wave” of Republican support did not materialise in this week’s midterm elections – though they are still poised to regain control of the House of Representatives and could still seize full control of Congress. John Sudworth weighs what the outcome means for Donald Trump's Republicans The death of a 15-year-old Aboriginal boy in Western Australia has triggered a public outcry. Last month, Cassius Turvey was walking home from school with friends, when they were allegedly attacked. Cassius was beaten up and later died in hospital. His death has posed hard questions, about pervasive racism in the country, says Shaimaa Khalil The Egyptian beach resort of Sharm El-Sheikh is this week hosting the UN Climate Change summit. The gathering is often criticised for its lack of progress on climate change targets and its heavy carbon footprint. But Justin Rowlatt says there’s a new proposal, which is gaining traction – led by the Prime Minister of Barbados. Portugal's golden visa scheme, which rewarded wealthy foreign investors with citizenship, has pushed house prices up over the last ten years. The government recently announced it plans to end the scheme - but it may be too late for many young people who’re still unable to get a foot on the housing ladder, says Natasha Fernandez. In Slovenia, Nick Hunt follows the 'Walk of Peace' trail amid trenches and memorials to fallen soldiers in the First World War. He hears from locals how forest fires last Summer wreaked fresh devastation on the region. Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
12/11/22·28m 54s

Surviving Mariupol

Kate Adie presents stories from Ukraine, Nigeria, the US, Mexico and an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. News this week of the discovery of another mass grave in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol has left families with missing relatives, fearing for their plight. And as media access has grown increasingly limited, understanding what really happened in Mariupol has become less clear. Hillary Anderson has spent much of the year trying to find out. In Nigeria, the case of Mubarak Bala, who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for blasphemy, has thrown into the spotlight the limits on freedom of expression. Across the country, atheists, face discrimination at work and even violence. Yemisi Adegoke followed Mubarak's case and learned what can happen to those who decide to live openly without faith. Residents of Jackson, Mississippi have long complained about their failing water system. And this summer, the crisis came to a head. Jackson’s residents were faced with dirty brown water coming from their taps, or no water at all - but the crisis is far from over. Nick Judin met some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. The UN Secretary General this week warned that the world is on a 'highway to climate hell' as world leaders gathered for COP 27, in Egypt. Kate Vandy travelled to Svalbard – a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, which is warming six times faster than anywhere else on the planet. Every year, the start of November brings the traditional Mexican holiday The Day of the Dead. People paint their faces, wear flowers in their hair, and hang skeleton-themed decorations in the streets. But in Mexico City, Olaf Furniss wonders whether today’s festivities are veering from tradition. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Ellie House and Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
10/11/22·28m 27s

Albania’s Young Migrants

Albania’s Prime Minister this week has accused the UK of scapegoating his country's citizens to excuse its ‘failed policies’ on migration. This comes amid a deepening crisis over the UK’s handling of asylum seekers. Sara Monetta spoke to people in the suburbs of Tirana about why many of Albania’s young people are choosing to leave. Last weekend, young people gathered in the district of Itaewon, in the South Korean capital Seoul, to celebrate Halloween in far greater numbers than usual. The subsequent crush killed more than 150 people. Laila Shahrokhshahi experienced first-hand the force of the crowds before tragedy struck. Voters in Israel chose to return Benjamin Netanyahu to power in this week's election. The big story of his dramatic comeback has been about the rise of Israel’s far-right, which he helped cultivate as a parliamentary alliance to boost the numbers for his right-wing bloc in the Knesset. Tom Bateman looks at the emergence of a new kingmaker, Itamar Ben-Gvir. Ahead of the midterm elections, the abortion debate still polarises the US, following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. During those proceedings, there was also talk of Safe Haven laws, which exist in every state, and allow mothers to leave their new-borns at a designated safe site if they feel they are unable to take care of them. In Arizona, Linda Pressly met a family with direct experience of this. Ukraine's President has accused the Kremlin of 'energy terrorism', saying millions of people have been left without power because of Russian attacks on the country's power grid. Hugo Bachega has been living in the city for the past few months, and describes how Kyiv’s citizens have once again adapted to rapidly changing circumstances. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
05/11/22·28m 50s

The return of Lula

Brazil's left-wing Presidential candidate Lula da Silva made a political comeback this week, narrowly beating the incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro. In Lula’s victory speech, he promised to tackle hunger, which is affecting more than 33 million people there. Sofia Bettiza travelled to Northeastern Brazil, where many people voted for Lula. This week, Lebanon entered unchartered territory with no president, a caretaker cabinet and deeply divided parliament. And with the Lebanese currency losing around 90 per cent of its value, the country’s citizens have been taken matters into their own hands. More than a dozen banks have been raided this year by customers demanding to take out their own money rather than see their savings diminish further. Leila Molana-Allen spoke to several of those affected by the rapidly falling exchange rate. In September, clashes erupted along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The hostilities marked the most serious escalation since 2020, when they fought a bloody war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. A tentative ceasefire is now in place. But Gabriel Gavin found increasing numbers of Armenian women signing up to defend the country Norway this week put its military on a raised level of alert in response to the war in Ukraine. David Baillie was recently on Norway’s border with Russia where he encountered some young students manning the border posts. In Senegal, we hear how a certain food staple introduced by the former French colonisers has become a much-loved feature of the diet of the Serer people. Tim Whewell recently went to seek out the story of how this food item came to be so cherished. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Editor: Simon Watts Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
03/11/22·29m 11s

Ukraine’s Eastern Frontline

The battle on Ukraine’s eastern frontline, in Donbas, has turned into a protracted artillery war, which Ukraine has described as the biggest on European soil since World War Two. And as battlefields surrender to the frost of Winter, the conditions for soldiers are becoming more perilous. Jeremy Bowen recently embedded with a Ukrainian artillery unit on the front line where, despite months of relentless fighting, soldiers are maintaining their resolve. The conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region has left a population facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. And although formal peace talks are currently underway in South Africa, between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces, fighting is still on-going. Catherine Byaruhanga has been speaking to health workers dealing with the fallout of this conflict, who fear, without basic supplies, the situation will only get worse. The southern state of Georgia looks set to be a crucial battleground for Democrats and Republicans in the forthcoming mid-term elections in the United States. The outcome of the Senate race in Georgia is likely to determine which party has control of the upper chamber of Congress. Kayla Epstein has been following the campaign of the high-profile Republican candidate, Herschel Walker. Bullfighting is a centuries old tradition most often associated with Spain and one which arouses passion amongst both its supporters and its detractors. But the traditional arena bull fight is not, in fact, the most common bull-related activity in the country. There are numerous smaller festivals involving bulls which have recently come under the spotlight, after nine people died earlier this year after taking part in bull runs in Northern Valencia. Victor Lloret travelled to Lucena del Cid to find out what happens to the bulls during these local festivities. French overseas territories don’t run their own domestic affairs like their British equivalents, but elect representatives to the French parliament and vote for a presidential candidate. This year, the far right leader Marine Le Pen scored her best presidential first round result in Mayotte, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean. Tim Fenton is just back from the island, where he found the politics was almost as striking as its beauty. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
29/10/22·28m 56s

Brazil votes on the Amazon's future

Kate Adie introduces dispatches from Brazil, Taiwan, Zambia, Sweden and the USA. On Sunday Brazilians vote in the final stage of their presidential election, and the slate offers a very clear choice. Meanwhile, the indigenous peoples of Brazil are facing a host of outside threats, as illegal gold miners flood into their traditional lands to seek their fortunes. While the mining process itself damages the forest, the social effects are also insidious. Katy Watson has been to the world's largest indigenous reserve, territory of the Yanomami people, to hear how the gold rush is playing out. The issue of Taiwan's identity is one of the most vexed geopolitical questions around. On the Chinese mainland, there's no doubt - Taiwan is historically part of China and reunification should happen as soon as possible. On the island itself, most people have very different views. In Taipei, Zeinab Badawi considers the past, present and future of a possible flashpoint for regional conflict. Food prices have been rising almost everywhere, in the wake of the war in Ukraine and several seasons of drought and natural disaster in many of the world's usual 'breadbaskets'. Some feel the effects far more keenly than others. In Zambia, the soaring cost of bottled gas and vegetable oil means even the simplest snack is now out of reach for some. Qasa Alom stopped off in a small town to talk about the price of potato chips with a woman who earns her living selling them from a stall. Most stereotypes of Sweden revolve around ABBA and Ikea, a strong welfare state and political moderation. But the results of the most recent general election shook those certainties, as a far-right nativist party, the Sweden Democrats, gained over a fifth of the votes and became a key part of the new right-wing coalition in government. Matilda Welin's been wondering if it's time for Swedes and others to rethink what the country's really about. Can the United States of America ever really make amends for the sins of its past? Paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved people was a central demand for the Black Lives Matter movement. Calculating the best way to pay out is a challenge to communities and institutions. Mike Wendling reports from Evanston, Illinois, on one scheme which has made some first steps. Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Co-ordinator: Iona Hammond
27/10/22·29m 2s

Nigeria’s Flood-hit State

Nigeria is suffering its worst flooding in a decade with 1.4 million people displaced and more than 600 killed. There are now concerns that the country may face catastrophic levels of hunger. The BBC’s West Africa correspondent, Mayeni Jones, visited flood-hit Kogi state and reflects on what her journey revealed about the state of the country. The Netherlands is currently lurching from crisis to crisis - including a tense debate over how to accommodate thousands of asylum seekers. In recent weeks, judges ordered the Dutch government to raise the standards in the reception of refugees in line with the European minimum. Anna Holligan visited a reception centre in the country's rural north. Many who fled Iran after the revolution in 1979 had to find their way in new countries, including Israel. Suzanne Kianpour met with a singer who left Iran for Israel as a child and spoke to her about how she managed to adjust to the different culture and her desire to build bridges between enemy countries. Bhutan has kept its borders firmly closed for two and a half years. Now it’s re-opened to tourists, and an additional daily tourist tax is set to make it a much more exclusive. Locals who cater for less extravagant budgets are being hit hard, says Michelle Jana Chan. it was just a normal Friday afternoon when tragedy struck the village of Creeslough in county Donegal in Ireland. An explosion at a petrol station killed ten people - with police describing it as a tragic accident. Members of the local community have pulled together in their grief with small acts of kindness, says Chris Page. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond Editor: Emma Rippon Photo credit: Ayo Bello, BBC
22/10/22·29m 9s

Tracing Ukraine’s missing people

In Ukraine, rights groups are reporting growing numbers of missing civilians in areas occupied by Russia. Many are believed to have been taken to Russian prisons, but the husbands, wives and relatives are left behind, scouring news bulletins and online message boards in a desperate attempt to track them down. Bel Trew met some of them. The UK government is being urged to make a formal apology for alleged war crimes by British troops in historical Palestine nearly a century ago. The petition is being brought by an elderly Palestinian business owner who was shot and wounded by UK forces as a boy. Tom Bateman came across the vivid accounts of some of the soldiers. The sinking of a government-owned Senegalese ferry, the Joola, in 2002 took more lives than the infamous Titanic - leaving 1,800 people dead. Subsequent inquiries highlighted poor safety measures and the overcrowding of the boat as major factors in the disaster. Our correspondent, Efrem Gebreab met two of the survivors in Senegal. Sporadic protests have been taking place across Cuba amid a nationwide blackout following Hurricane Ian. Cuba's economy had been brought to its knees due to economic mismanagement and the impact of Covid-19. And the recent disaster at the island’s biggest fuel depot meant a powerful hurricane was the last thing the weary Cuban people needed, says Will Grant. Naples in Southern Italy is renowned for its Roman ruins but what about its Greek heritage? Part of an ancient Greek cemetery, discovered under a 19th century palazzo has now been opened to the public. Julia Buckley went to visit the intricately decorated tombs.
20/10/22·28m 55s

Ukraine: A War of Nerves

The past week has been one of contrasting emotions in Ukraine. The country celebrated a dramatic and unexpected development: an attack on a key bridge linking Russia with Crimea was seen as a major strategic blow to Vladimir Putin. But days later, Russia launched some of the most widespread missile attacks of the war. Paul Adams, says there is a lingering unease in Ukraine about Putin’s next move. Last month, a bold counter-offensive by Ukraine’s military in the country’s east led to a retreat by Russian forces. But as the Russians left behind cities they occupied for months, allegations of atrocities they committed began to emerge. Sofia Bettiza met some Sri Lankans held captive in the city of Kharkiv. A shocking attack on a nursery in Thailand’s north-east stunned the country. Jonathan Head was in the village of Uthai Sawan, and reflects on the part that the hardship of life may have played in the tragedy. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Tajikistan slid into a 5 year civil war which cost 100,000 lives and forced a million people from their homes. Among the pursuits of daily life that has suffered amid the violence is bee-keeping. But, thanks to a conservation initiative, it's seeing a revival says Antonia Bolingbroke Kent. A dream inspires a visit to a fishing village in Romania across the Danube from Ukraine. Its name is Periprava – once the site of a Communist-prison camp, now razed to the ground. Nick Thorpe was given a tour of the secluded, small community, much transformed. But despite its charm, the sound of sirens can still be heard across the waters – and a colder reality breaks the spell. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Editor: Bridget Harney Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
15/10/22·28m 59s

Mahsa Amini’s Kurdish Heritage

Protests in Iran, following the death in custody of a Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, are now in their fourth week despite the intensifying crackdown. Mahsa became a symbol of Iranian repression after her arrest by the morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Anna Foster met members of Mahsa's family who live across the border in Iraqi Kurdistan. In India, a new extremist Hindu movement - made up mostly of young men- is growing. They call themselves “trads”, short for traditionalists, and share many of the hallmarks of America’s alt-right movement and mainly operate online. Reha Kansara met one of them on India’s southern coast. Rising inflation is now a global problem, but in Argentina it’s a way of life. This year has proved particularly challenging in the country as it teeters on the edge of hyperinflation. Jane Chambers was in Buenos Aires recently and spoke to some of the city’s residents about how they are managing. A crush at an Indonesian football stadium in Malang West Java which left 131 people dead is being counted as one of the worst stadium disasters in sporting history. There has been public outcry over the incident, with concerns raised about the heavy-handed response of the police and the lack of safety measures in place, says Aliefia Malik. The UK’s frosty relationship with the EU has become an almost permanent backdrop since the Brexit referendum. But in recent weeks, the UK’s presence at the European Political Community meeting in Prague, along with other signs of cooperation, have raised diplomatic hopes that a thaw was underway. But does this amount to a genuine shift, ask James Landale. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Editor: Bridget Harney Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
13/10/22·29m 1s

Famine looms in Somalia

A fight for survival is underway in Somalia as the country faces its worst drought in 40 years. Andrew Harding travelled to the southwestern city of Baidoa - one of the worst-affected areas in the country, where people are now flooding to in hope of finding humanitarian assistance. The story of two teenage sisters who were raped and hanged in their village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has shaken communities there. The case has also been complicated by spurious suggestions by local politicians that there was a religious motivation behind the killings. Geeta Pandy met the family of the victims. Henry Wilkins is in Burkina Faso, where two coups have now taken place this year. The West African country lacks strong democratic institutions and the military have long been dominant. It’s also found itself increasingly embroiled in a new cold war rivalry between France and Russia. Set in the hills north of Spoleto in the southern Appenines is the small Italian town of Montefalco. The local grape, the Sagrantino, is known to be one of the tougher varieties to make into wine. Ellie House met one vineyard owner in the region and learnt how the production process is still one based on trial – and a few errors. Saudi Arabia’s been burnishing its credentials as host for the world’s biggest sporting events this year, with speculation its even lining itself up for an Olympic bid. Steve Bunce considers whether the presence of the world’s best athletes can really distract critical eyes, as the kingdom’s rulers might hope. Presenter: Kate Adie Producers: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Production coordinator: Iona Hammond Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
08/10/22·28m 53s

China’s media control

China’s communist party is preparing for a crucial meeting of the annual congress, which is expected to award President, Xi Jinping a third term in office. But amid the tightened security surrounding this event, economic storm clouds are gathering. And investigating and reporting on the effects of this downturn is becoming ever more tricky, as Stephen McDonnell has found. The storm surge triggered by Hurricane Ian engulfed several cities on Florida’s Coast. Buildings were torn apart and 600 000 homes and businesses were left without power. Alexandra Ostasiewicz went to a trailer park community in Fort Myers where residents are now trying rebuild their lives and homes. There have been reports this week of a breakthrough by Ukrainian troops fighting in the South of the country in the Kherson region after further gains had been made in the East against the Russians. Abdujalil Abdurasulov was embedded with Ukrainian troops on the southern frontline where a protracted battle is underway. Mexico is known the world over for its vibrant and spicy cuisine. But Will Grant is one of the unlucky few who is unable to savour the country's culinary delights due to losing his sense of taste several months after contracting Covid. He's now resorting to more extreme measures to get it back. Concealed among the algae or and broken seashells on Lithuania's coast are little pieces of drift amber. Its origins can be traced back thousands of years, when resin that fell from trees in vast forests was washed out to sea and transformed into the gemstone on the ocean floor. Heidi Fuller Love went on an amber trail. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling and Ellie House Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
06/10/22·28m 11s

Flight From Russia

Russian men have been flooding across the border to escape Vladimir Putin's military draft. Around 10,000 Russian citizens have been entering the republic of Georgia daily since the call-up was announced. Rayhan Demytrie has spoken to Russians crossing the border. As protests continue across Iran, following the death in custody of a young woman after allegedly breaking headscarf rules, Rana Rahimpour reflects on how restrictions on women have evolved since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and her own experience growing up in Tehran. Giorgia Meloni is set to be Italy's next Prime Minister, after winning a convincing victory in last weekend’s election. The far-right leader has been quick to denounce the party’s fascist links but not all are convinced. Mark Lowen has been looking at how history weighs on Italy – and whether its likely first female Prime Minister will tone down in office. The strategically well-placed Pacific Islands continue to be a battleground for influence for the US and China. Among the island nations they’re courting is Fiji - Suranjana Tewari travelled there recently and found the country is looking to a self-sustained future, with the advent of a thriving start up scene. And finally, we’re in the forests of Northern Ukraine where the war has not only taken a human toll but has also had a dramatic effect on an oft-forgotten aspect of life in that country: the rare flora and fauna. Moose, deer, lynx and wolves are all known to live in this remote corner of the continent. Our Security Correspondent Frank Gardner travelled to Ukraine’s northern forests to visit a part of Europe few visitors ever see.
01/10/22·28m 19s

Brazil at a crossroads

Brazilians will vote in the first round of presidential elections on Sunday. The front-runner is former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – currently, polls suggest he has a healthy lead over the incumbent far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Political observers say these will be the most closely watched elections since Brazil returned to democracy in 1989 - and some of the most polarised, as Katy Watson explains Tensions flared up again earlier this month between the former Soviet states of Armenia and Azerbaijan leaving more than 200 people dead. The fighting is linked to decades-old hostilities over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A fragile ceasefire is now in place. Grigor Atenesian spoke to one family who have twice been forced from their home. Singapore recently announced it will repeal its strict laws banning gay sex after years of fierce debate. But even during that period, Singapore’s gay bars, nightclubs and festivals continued to thrive and are being showcased in the city-state’s first LGBT walking tour. Tessa Wong went for a stroll. In North America, John Murphy watches a game of lacrosse in the region where it first originated, among Native Americans. Following the arrival of European colonisers, the original game was adopted and adapted with indigenous players being excluded. Now, there’s a move to reclaim the indigenous game. The Roman emperor Domitian was known for his tyrannical rule. After his death, by assassination, the Roman Senate condemned his memory to oblivion, but not everything was eradicated, as Hugh Levinson discovered on a visit to the walled city of Kotor in Montenegro.
29/09/22·29m 10s

Putin’s Gamble

Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial conscription to fight in the war in Ukraine was interpreted by many as an act of desperation. Within Russia, the news sparked protests by Russians who are against fighting a war they don’t believe in. Until now many Russians had continued with life almost as normal, unaffected by Putin’s so-called special operation. This week changed that, says Sarah Rainsford Iran is facing the most serious challenge to its leadership in years. The death of a young woman in police custody, after she was arrested for allegedly failing to follow hijab rules has triggered nationwide protests in both middle class and working-class areas. Kian Sharifi says these protests show a stiffening resolve. Rajini Vaidyanathan visits a hospital in Sindh Province in Pakistan, which was the worst affected area in recent floods. The World Health Organisation has warned that the country now faces a second disaster amid an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Over the past year, Israel's Ultra-orthodox community has struggled to deal with a series of sex abuse scandals. One of the biggest involved a leading light of the ultra-Orthodox world, Rabbi Chaim Walder who was accused of abusing women and children. Yolande Knell, reports on the shockwaves these revelations have caused. Centuries ago, Getaria, a town on Spain’s Atlantic coast, gave birth to a man who changed the world: Juan Sebastián Elkano, the first person to navigate a ship around the globe. Julius Purcell was in Getaria for the anniversary of Elkano’s mighty achievement and finds the town caught in a national debate over Spain’s imperial legacy.
24/09/22·29m 16s

A turning point for Ukraine?

The news of Ukraine’s stunning counter-offensive in the country’s north-east has raised hopes of a possible turning point in the war with Russia. But tentative celebrations about Ukraine’s advances were quickly tempered after the gruesome discovery of a mass grave in Izyum. Hugo Bachega reports. As Pakistan confronts the damage wrought by catastrophic floods in recent weeks, Secunder Kermani reflects on this and other major events he has covered as he leaves the region: the US invasion and withdrawal from Afghanistan, local politics and the Taliban’s resurgence. In the US, the use of the death penalty has gradually declined over recent decades. Several states have abolished it altogether but 11 states continue to perform executions including Texas. Maria Margaronis travelled to Livingston, where she met one prisoner with just weeks left before his execution date. Greece has finally emerged from a strict monitoring programme imposed by the EU. This marks the end of a chapter in a debt crisis which was first triggered by the 2008 financial turmoil. Antonia Quirke has been to the Peloponnese region where she met a tourist guide harking back to an era long before the European project. Australia's PM, Anthony Albanese is going to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, despite being an avowed Republican. For many Australians, she become a beloved friend. But, beyond this period of mourning, questions remain about the British Monarch’s role as the country’s head of state. Nick Bryant explores a rather paradoxical relationship. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Researcher: Ellie House Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
17/09/22·28m 54s

Queen Elizabeth II and the World

From the Commonwealth country of Canada, to the fifth republic of France, we reflect on how the world remembers Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As Head of the Commonwealth, the Queen had to negotiate the ever-evolving relationship with its member states as they declared independence and as Britain’s relationship to its former colonies underwent profound change. The British Monarch remains head of state of 14 countries, from Canada to the Solomon Islands. Lyse Doucet is in Ottawa where Canada’s leaders have made warm tributes and reflects back on her own encounters with the Queen. Despite its anti-monarchist history, one of the more powerful tributes to the Queen emerged from French President Emmanuel Macron. He spoke fondly of her as a ‘great head of state’ and a ‘kind-hearted queen.’ So what was the Queen’s relationship to France? In 1972 Queen Elizabeth famously told former President Georges Pompidou 'we are not driving on the same side of the road, but we are going in the same direction', when he lifted the veto to Britain entering the Common Market. Hugh Schofield reflects on a unique relationship. The Oscar-winning film Parasite portrays the story of a low-income South Korean family living in a basement apartment. In one memorable scene, the heavens open and floodwater fills the family home. Last month, in a cruel example of life imitating art, Seoul experienced its heaviest flooding in 100 years. Water rushed into homes, trapping residents inside – four people were killed. The city government has since promised to get rid of the basement apartments and create more social housing. But as Jean Mackenzie has been finding out, this offers little comfort to those who live there. The Gambia is Africa’s smallest nation, where the process of reconciliation is proving arduous, five years after the end of a murderous dictatorship. Former President Yahya Jammeh, who fled to Equatorial Guinea in 2017 after losing a re-election bid, is wanted internationally for crimes against humanity, including extrajudicial killings, torture, forced disappearances, and sexual violence. Because he still enjoys a measure of loyalty back home, the nation he left behind is divided. Most of Jammeh’s hit men fled when he did, and many Gambians say reconciliation is impossible until they are all brought to justice. When Alexa Dvorson visited the country she witnessed a rare act of contrition. The Republic of Moldova sits on a fault line of geo-politics, with warring Ukraine on one side and Romania, firmly ensconced in the EU and Nato, on the other. Within its borders, is Transnistria, where a Russian-backed separatist war broke out thirty years ago. Today the area is a frozen conflict zone, but Russia still has a military presence. Piggy-in-the-middle between East and West, perhaps nothing tells Moldova’s complicated story more clearly than its main industry – wine - as Tessa Dunlop finds. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Production coordinator: Iona Hammond Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
10/09/22·28m 59s

'A Monsoon on Steroids'

Stories about the floods that have submerged a third of Pakistan; the violent clashes in Iraq; Brazil's bizarre bicentennial and farewell to the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. In Pakistan, heavy rains and floods have submerged a third of the country. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the calamity “a monsoon on steroids". At least 1100 people have been killed, and an estimated 33 million are now displaced or homeless. Shahzeb Jillani reports from the southern province of Sindh, the worst affected, where victims are disappointed with their politicians, but young people have sprung into action. At least 23 people were killed, and many injured, in some of the worst violence in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in years. Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, a powerful Shia Muslim cleric, political leader and militia commander, clashed with Iran-backed armed groups. There'd been a long stand-off following inconclusive parliamentary elections, and then al-Sadr announced his retirement from politics. Shelly Kittleson in Baghdad explains. Next week, it’ll be 200 years since Brazil became an independent country, breaking free of its colonial ruler Portugal. There’ll be military parades – and more. But one ceremony has already taken place, held to receive a bizarre royal relic from Portugal. Reactions to this occasion seem as divided as the views about what to celebrate, if anything. Julia Carneiro reflects on her country's bicentennial. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was liked and admired in the West, for bringing about the end of the Cold War, lifting the Iron Curtain that kept Eastern Europe under Communism, and dissolving the Soviet Union. But in Russia, he is reviled by many for breaking up the Soviet Union. Steve Rosenberg met Mr Gorbachev on several occasions - and got to hear him sing. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius Production coordinator: Iona Hammond Editor: Hugh Levinson
03/09/22·28m 35s

Somalia's searing drought

Stories from Russia, Israel, Thailand, Greece and Somalia, where more than 90% of the country is still enduring extremely dry weather. Since October 2020, four successive rainy seasons have effectively failed. Now human lives are at risk, with more than one and a half million children in the country classified as acutely malnourished. Mercy Juma recently saw just how parched and how hungry the landscape has become. When a car bomb exploded in Moscow last weekend killing Daria Dugina, a Russian TV pundit, the conspiracy theories multiplied. Some suspected perhaps the real target was her father: Alexander Dugin, a prominent conservative philosopher. In the West, some called Mr Dugin “Putin’s brain” – or even “Putin’s Rasputin”. But that didn’t quite ring true, at least not to Gabriel Gatehouse, who has spent many years covering Russia and Ukraine, and who met Alexander Dugin in 2016. The war has also been vexing both Russian and Ukrainian relations with Israel. The Israeli government has spoken out publicly against the war and moved to shelter refugees, while also offering to act as a diplomatic go-between the two sides. Russia's justice ministry is currently seeking to liquidate the Russian branch of the non-profit Jewish Agency, which helps Jews around the world move to Israel. Tim Samuels recently met some of those trying to start again in a new land. The elephant is, famously, a symbol of Thailand – but it’s more than symbolic. There are thousands of real live elephants in the country. Around half are kept in captivity as working animals, used either to move earth or timber, or, in a modern twist, to take tourists for rides. As tourism reopens, some Karen communities near the Thai-Myanmar border are trying a new kind of venture, based on a more respectful relationship with the animals. Mark Stratton went to see how it's working out. Many might dream of making a holiday home idyll last longer – perhaps even for good. But staying all year round in a rural village in Europe can be a much more gruelling prospect, if there aren’t any local services, shops or even many neighbours to call on. Alba Arikha has been restoring and settling into an old house in a Greek hamlet not far from the town of Kardamyli, on the western coast of the Mani peninsula.
27/08/22·29m 9s

Brutality in Russia's prisons

Kate Adie introduces dispatches from Russia, Haiti, North Macedonia, Chile and the Republic of the Congo Allegations of organised brutality in the Russian penitentiary system have circulated for many years. Inmates’ accounts of beatings and humiliation were frequent – but more recently, there has also been hard evidence in the form of leaked video footage showing organized physical and sexual abuse. As he spent months investigating the culture of violence inside, Oleg Bodyrev heard shocking stories of torture and sexual assault from former inmates. Haiti is facing multiple crises right now. Chronic instability, dictatorships and natural disasters in recent decades have left it as the poorest nation in the Americas. Still grappling with the Covid pandemic, gang violence has escalated in the capital, Port au Prince, with more than 200 people left dead after ten days of fighting back in July. But as Harold Isaac explains, for Haitians, this is just the backdrop of a much bigger problem, as the country's fuel supply dries up. It’s now almost twenty years since the European Union promised membership to the countries of the Western Balkans. But since the Thessaloniki Declaration of 2003, just one country in the region has completed the accession process. Other countries’ hopes of joining Croatia have been stuck in different levels of bureaucratic purgatory. North Macedonia and Albania have now formally started membership talks, but it’s a still very long way from a done deal. Guy De Launey finds the endless delays have some people in Skopje asking how much they really want to join the club. Chile is gearing up for a referendum vote on the 4th of September – on whether to approve or reject a new constitution. But at the moment, the country is still deeply polarised over its proposed 366 articles - not to mention confused over when, and how they may be finalised. Jane Chambers reports from Santiago. The population in the Republic of Congo is growing fast - it's also predominantly young and extremely urbanised, with over 85 per cent of people living in towns and cities. In this part of the world, the forces of rain and rivers are immense, and tropical storms can reshape the landscape at a stroke. Building homes to resist natural disaster has always been a challenge, so how can the expanding communities of Brazzaville stay safe? Nick Loomis has seen just how dramatic the risks can be.
20/08/22·28m 48s

Colombia's countryside not yet at peace

Kate Adie introduces dispatches from Colombia, Taiwan, Tunisia, Iraq and Germany. Colombia's first-ever left-wing President, the former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Petro, has been sworn in, and questions about the country's peace dividend have sharpened. With the long-running insurgency disarmed, many Colombians hoped they’d soon be able to breathe more freely. Katy Watson visited the Cauca valley, where the benefits of peace have yet to trickle down to the grass roots. The recent furore over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a sharp reminder of just how much of a regional flashpoint this island's status can be. Rupert Wingfield Hayes knows this part of the world well – and he's seen its Taiwanese democracy evolve over several decades. Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings just over a decade ago. The country ejected its long-time leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and brought in a full parliamentary democracy, but since then it's seen prolonged political stalemate and infighting. The current President, Kais Saied, wrote a new framework which hugely extends the powers of his own office, which was approved by an apparently overwhelming majority at the polls. But the BBC's Middle East correspondent Anna Foster found that not everyone was celebrating. In Baghdad, followers of the Shia cleric-cum-politician Muqtada al-Sadr took over the main parliament building recently. But having central government at a standstill leaves the prospect of finding solutions to Iraq's multiple social problems even further out of reach. The Sadrists insist their leader has the answers and should be enabled to govern unobstructed - Lizzie Porter talked to the demonstrators about what they really want. The energy squeeze applied by rising fuel prices are being felt particularly sharply in Germany, which has historically depended on cheap gas from Russia. Some German regions are now proposing new limits on energy usage. Jenny Hill is in Bavaria, where frugal plans for the winter are very much on the minds of local politicians. Producer: Polly Hope Production Co-Ordinator: Iona Hammond
13/08/22·28m 51s

Kenya goes to the polls

Kenyans go to the polls to elect a new president. Plus, our correspondent says farewell to the Philippines; the personal consequences of Poland’s strict abortion laws; and how a women-only shopping mall is providing new opportunities in Yemen.
06/08/22·27m 56s

Farewell, Super Mario

Stories from Italy, Ukraine, Peru and Sri Lanka. We're in Italy, which last week saw the resignation of Mario Draghi as PM after only 18 months in office. Initially a popular choice as PM – Mr Draghi has guided Italy and the eurozone through numerous crises. But having failed to win support for a new economic package among his broad-based unity government, he called a vote of confidence – and lost. Mark Lowen reflects on a very Italian situation. In Ukraine, Dan Johnson visits some of the Soviet era institutions where children and young people with disabilities are confined. He found that many of these residential homes are ill equipped to provide proper care and cope with their complex needs. Human rights investigators say the neglect disabled people face in Ukraine reflects the failings of a system that has been deficient long before the war started. Amid the political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka, we hear from correspondent Aanya Wipulasena about the people growing their own fruit and vegetables to cope with the soaring costs of food. And about the broader impact of the instability on education and people's livelihoods. In Peru, we meet the farmer behind a David and Goliath-style lawsuit, who has taken on Germany energy company over the impact of emissions on the local environment. The case centres on determining the link between climate change and the melting of a nearby glacier, and the risk this poses to the lake it feeds. Olivia Acland followed the story. And finally - Roger Harrabin reflects on his 35 years covering the natural world, focusing, in particular, on the threat posed by human-induced climate change. He reflects on how reporting on this issue has changed over the years.
30/07/22·28m 41s

Valentina’s Kiosk

Stories from Russia, Ukraine, Lebanon and South Africa Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is now entering its six-month and there’s still no signs of any possible resolution or ceasefire. Russian citizens continue to be fed a daily diet of propaganda on State TV, with fewer and fewer sources of independent news. But the conflict is nevertheless taking its toll on Russian citizens as soldiers go out to the frontline, never to return, which has left families questioning the government line that the Ukraine invasion is necessary. To keep abreast of the Russian point of view, Steve Rosenburg has a daily ritual: buying his newspapers each day from his local newspaper kiosk, run by a woman called Valentina. He tells her story. In Ukraine, a recent missile attack in the city of Vinnytsia, in central-west Ukraine has served as a stark reminder of the indiscriminate nature of Russia's military onslaught. Everyday routines have become fraught with hazard, from a trip to the shops to a walk to school, even in those cities considered to be safe. Sarah Rainsford has been in Vinnytsia and Mykolaiv. The Lebanese economy is in a state of collapse, but the government hopes that the summer tourist season, when many Lebanese living abroad return for a holiday, will provide a much-needed boost. But any visitor must navigate a tangled web of erratic exchange rates, as Angelica Jopson has found. And finally, to South Africa’s West Coast, the site of a large saltwater lagoon situated in a National Park, around 55 miles north of Cape Town. The area, which is also a marine reserve, attracts numerous water birds and sea life, as the Atlantic waves pound its edge. Antonia Quirke went to explore the lagoon. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
23/07/22·29m 25s

The Crown Prince and the President

The meeting between US President, Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, at the weekend was closely watched back in Washington. Mr Biden said his visit would focus mainly on human rights and regional security - but a request for an increase in oil output was also on the agenda. Anna Foster was in Jeddah. Beyond the official meetings, Sebastian Usher speaks to artists who are taking part in an exhibition in Qatif, in Saudi Arabia's east, reflecting on some of the lost heritage both there and in the historic quarter of Jeddah, amid the rapid pace of development in the Kingdom. Wildfires have broken out across Europe as a heatwave has brought soaring temperatures. Portugal has seen 30,000 hectares of land destroyed by wildfires already this year, and its leaders have moved quickly to try and avoid repeating the same mistakes they did in the deadly fires of 2017. Alison Roberts has been following the story. We visit the town of Pacific Grove, California which has become renowned for its butterfly visitors over the years, which migrate from the frostier climes of Canada to the Golden State. Ben Wyatt hears about efforts by locals in 'Butterfly Town USA' to help protect the various species of butterflies which are at risk of extinction. Finally, we're in Greenland, which is prioritising tourism as a means of growing its economy, rather than mineral exploration. The island remains a challenging environment in which to travel but is not lacking for luxury, as Tim Ecott finds. On his visit, he discovers a Michelin-starred restaurant on the shores of an Ice Fjord. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
21/07/22·28m 21s

The legacy of Shinzo Abe

Japan has been in mourning after the assassination of former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, at an election rally in the Western city of Nara. Mr Abe was a towering figure in Japanese politics. He was known for his efforts to bring Japan out of years of economic stagnation. Yet it was his firm belief that Japan should move away from its pacifist past that proved most divisive. Rupert Wingfield Hayes reflects his legacy. In Ethiopia, the federal government has been in armed conflict with rebel authorities in the northern region of Tigray since November 2020. Tens of thousands of people have been killed. A state of emergency was imposed between last November and in February this year, and the country’s human rights watch dog said the period was marked by a significant number of arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions. The Ethiopian government is now saying it plans to negotiate with forces from the Tigray region, but a culture of impunity prevails, says Kalkidan Yibeltal. We visit a mosque and a church in Norway to hear how an agreement between Christian and Muslim leaders, recognising the right to convert between faiths, has affected the respective communities. Maddy Savage is in Oslo. Jamaica has this year set the process in motion to remove the Queen as head of state and become a Republic. Adina Campbell recently visited the country and found the issue was the subject of fervent discussion wherever she went. The Shandur Polo Festival in north-west Pakistan is held each July. The event draws enthusiastic crowds from all the surrounding regions, willing to brave the nerve-wracking journey to the highest polo ground in the world, says Hannah McCarthy. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman
16/07/22·28m 36s

Suspicions in Soweto

South Africa saw a spate of violent shootings over the last week triggering conspiracy theories and suspicions. South Africa has been simmering since last Summer, when the country saw some of the worst outbreaks of violence in decades. Andrew Harding says there is a jittery mood in the country. Next, the authorities in Uzbekistan - a former Soviet republic - have declared a state of emergency and a night-time curfew in the region of Karakalpakstan following protests about moves to restrict its autonomy. Although the planned constitutional changes have now been withdrawn, Uzbek authorities have imposed a security clampdown and an information black-out. Joanna Lillis was there. At the local abortion clinics in Arkansas, the recent Supreme Court ruling in the US had an immediate impact, effectively giving states the right to determine their own abortion laws. In the case of Arkansas, the state’s Attorney-General then implemented an almost complete ban. Sophie Long was at an abortion clinic in Little Rock when the news broke. We visit one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. An eruption at the Fuego volcano four years ago devastated the surrounding region, killing at least 200 hundred people. Several thousand were displaced, but many have since returned both to live and to farm the mineral rich land in the surrounding area. Isabelle Stanley set up camp on a nearby peak. The Dolomites Marathon in the Italian Alps is one of the major annual cycling events, approximately 86 miles in length, weaving its way through spectacular mountain passes. Dominic Casciani decided to make his return after a twelve-year reprieve. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
14/07/22·29m 2s

Sri Lanka on the edge

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence, with inflation soaring to the highest rate in Asia. The country’s energy minister warned at the weekend that the country would soon run out fuel as long queues formed at petrol stations, with many staying for days at a time. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has even sought help from Russia to help import fuel. Rajini Vaidyanathan has been in Colombo speaking to those most affected. Will Grant reflects on dual tragedies in Texas: the shooting in a primary school in Uvalde in Texas and 53 migrant deaths in a people smuggling operation. In both these horrific events, the correspondent heard stories of thwarted hopes – and life ambitions cut short. In Syria, cities like Damascus and Palmyra were once heralded for their history and architectural grandeur but much of their cultural heritage has been destroyed during the years of civil war. Nick Redmayne travelled to Palmyra on a guided tour, one of a few businesses that are trying to revive their fortunes despite an on-going economic crisis. In Algeria, we hear how people are working to restore the land that was burned in wildfires last year, in the country's northeast. Tens of thousands of hectares were destroyed in the flames and much of the natural landscape has morphed into charred remains. Amy Liptrot visited a project which is involved in restoring some of the land that was destroyed by the fires. And finally, we hear about one French farmer who has come up with a cunning plan to help generate a new source of revenue at his family run farm: it's a cabaret show with a difference, far away from the Folies Bergère. Chris Bockman paid it a visit. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Emma Rippon Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman
10/07/22·29m 0s

Confronting racism on Chinese social media

We track down a Chinese film maker in Malawi who used local children to film personalised greeting videos, some of which included racist content. These videos were sold on Chinese media and internet platforms – with the communities in Malawi none the wiser about the purpose of the content. Runako Celina reflects on how the attitudes she encountered on this investigation were reminiscent of her own experience as a black woman living in Beijing. Russians have been glued to talk shows presenting an alternative narrative of the invasion of Ukraine: characterising the invasion as a special operation. Frances Scarr speaks to those who believe Putin's actions are legitimate - confronting a perceived aggressor - and necessary. In Catalonia, support for the independence movement has dwindled in recent years. But it was thrown back in the spotlight during the Pegasus scandal, in which spyware was found to have been used by Spain's authorities to monitor independence supporters. Victor Lloret met someone who was also tracked by Pegasus. Iraqi Airways was once a badge of pride for many people. But the analogue-era service from Iraq's ageing flag carrier is a symptom of the country's state bloat. According to critics, money is spent on hiring huge numbers of staff in government-owned companies rather than investing in much-needed infrastructure. But the flights themselves are at least reliable, says Lizzie Porter. Our correspondent joins a kayak trip in Fajardo, in Puerto Rico’s East. The region is famous for its nature reserves and for the coqui frog. The singer Dessa encountered these frogs on a recent visit to the island. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Production Coordinators: Gemma Ashman and Iona Hammond Editor: Hugh Levinson
07/07/22·28m 4s

Suspicion and mistrust in the Donbas

Stories from Ukraine, Afghanistan, the US and Rwanda. Russia is focusing its military might on Ukraine's east where some of the locals have been heavily influenced by Vladimir Putin's propaganda machine. Allegiances have become blurred, with Ukrainian informants tipping off Russian soldiers on the whereabouts of their compatriots, says Orla Guerin. People in Afghanistan's Paktika province are trying to rebuild lives from the rubble of the recent earthquake. It's now estimated more than 1,000 people were killed and several villages were destroyed. Secunder Kermani met with some of the survivors who showed both resilience and generosity. Access to abortion will be a critical issue in the US mid-term elections in November: with battle lines drawn in Pennsylvania and many other states between Republican and Democratic candidates who either want to protect the right to abortion or want an outright ban. Christine Spolar is a Pennsylvania native and was back there as the Supreme Court's decision was announced. Rwanda has been in the spotlight as the country hosted a gathering of Commonwealth leaders, and amid controversy over its immigration deal with the UK. President Paul Kagame was eager to present a polished image to the international community, whilst also rebutting any criticisms of his own poor human rights record, says Anne Soy. Before the war, cities like Kyiv and Odessa were known for their bustling cafes and a lively arts scene. But just as they try to spring back to life, Russia fires another deadly missile, reminding the country and its people of the perils of dropping their guard. Nick Beake was in Kremenchuk and Kyiv this week.
02/07/22·28m 49s

A Summit in the Bavarian Alps

The Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps hosted dignitaries as they tried to present a united front against Russian aggression and tackle the global food crisis. James Landale also found the castle had an interesting story of its own when he was reporting from the summit. Russian soldiers have employed brutal tactics throughout the Ukrainian invasion. Attempts to escape cities like Severodonetsk and Mariupol often proved perilous for Ukrainians, fleeing in bullet ridden cars, under constant threat of attack. Hugo Bachega, met with some of the people who managed to get away. The ripple effect of the war in Ukraine is far-reaching – from grain shortages to a surge in electricity prices globally. Even energy rich Australia has found itself asking citizens to ration their use of electricity. Its new Prime Minister has pledged a greener future for the country, with less reliance on coal. But this transition may be harder than it might seem, says Shaimaa Khalil. Panama may be known for its banking secrecy and the canal, but more than half the country is covered in tropical forests and mangroves. Grace Livingstone recently visited the indigenous community of Arimae, in the east of the country, which is finding innovative ways to defend and protect their land. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover and Beijing has in the last few years been tightening its grip. In recent weeks, one of the city’s most famous institutions, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, closed its doors and subsequently sank. The restaurant failed to survive the impact of the pandemic. But it remains a symbol of a bygone era, says Louisa Lim. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinators: Gemma Ashman and Iona Hammond
30/06/22·28m 40s

Colombia breaks with its past

Gustavo Petro has been voted in as Colombia’s first ever leftist president – the former rebel and long-time senator campaigned to radically overhaul Colombia’s economy and bring an end to inequality. Katy Watson reports from Colombia’s capital Bogota on the country’s decisive break from its past. Despite his presidential victory earlier this year, Emmanuel Macron saw his party lose 100 seats in French parliamentary elections . Meanwhile Marine Le Pen's far-right party saw an elevenfold increase in MPs, and the hard-left alliance, under Jean-Luc Melanchon, saw their own support double. As the battle to forge a consensus begins, Lucy Williamson went to meet some of the new arrivals. Congressional hearings in Washington DC concerning the attack on the US Capitol building last year has made for gripping viewing. The committee panel has already heard a raft of Donald Trump’s former allies recount examples of presidential pressure to overturn the 2021 election result. Gabriel Gatehouse says, despite the evidence, the nation remains divided over which narrative to accept. The effort to protect the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas in Uganda is reckoned to be a conservation triumph. But this success has come at a terrible price for the Batwa – or pygmy – people who used to share the forest with the gorillas. Justin Rowlatt met with a Batwa man who still yearns for his former home. Domestic cats have been getting an uncharacteristically bad press recently in Iceland. One town proposed a cat curfew earlier this year – sparking fierce opposition from the newly-formed Cat Party in local elections. Egill Bjarnason has been following the ‘Cat Wars’. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Production Coordinator: Iona Hammond
25/06/22·28m 35s

More Killing in Kashmir

The situation in Kashmir is deteriorating again, with a new wave of attacks on civilians. Militant separatist groups appear to be targeting people purely because of their religion, while the Indian army stands accused of human rights violations. Yogita Limaye has been hearing from two families affected by the violence. Turkey appears to be in the midst of a crackdown on live music. The country's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already condemned what he regards as immoral influences on television and film. Now, a series of popular singers have seen their concerts cancelled. Ayla Jean Yackley has been speaking to them. Across huge swathes of the world, it is the norm for people to earn money from day-to-day opportunities, rather than having a fixed job. There is an on-going debate about whether or not this is a good idea - for the people involved, and for the societies they live in. Samuel Derbyshire has been hearing about the ups and downs of life as an informal worker in Kenya. The Suwalki Gap has been described as the most important place in the world that almost nobody has heard of - the spot where some fear World War Three could one day start. This small stretch of land in northern Poland sits in a crucial strategic position - and people fear that if Russia took control, it could cut off three Baltic states from their NATO allies. Sadakat Kadri visited Suwalki, to ask people there how they felt about living in this geopolitical hotspot. Amsterdam today is a picture postcard city, famous for its museums, its coffee shops, and its canals. However, hundreds of years ago, those canals, and also the city's docks made the city notorious for its smell. Now, those odours have been recreated, and will soon be offered to visitors as part of a scent-focused guided tour. Christa Larwood had a preview.
23/06/22·28m 31s

Ukraine's Battlefield Doctors

The task of a surgeon is not an easy one at the best of times, but some in Ukraine are having learn how to carry out operations in the midst of a battlefield. Many have been taught how to do this by the British surgeon, David Nott, who has worked in conflict zones around the globe. Wyre Davies joined one of his classes. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has left other countries wondering if they might be next. Fourteen countries have land borders with Russia, and eight of these were once part of the old Soviet Union, which Vladimir Putin at times seems keen to resurrect. Zeinab Badawi has been to Georgia, where she says many feel like they are now right on the front line. We owe the planet’s peat bogs a debt of gratitude, as they effectively suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and store it underground. Andrew Harding travelled deep into the Republic of Congo, to see a vast area of peat the size of England, which is currently under threat. The Yazidi people of northern Iraq suffered horrific atrocities at the hands of the group which calls itself Islamic State. IS has now been driven out of the Yazidi homeland, Mount Sinjar, but the Yazidi people now find themselves caught up in their country's fractious politics, with different groups fighting for their loyalty, and with guns as well as persuasion. Shelly Kittleson learns how this has left communities - and families - bitterly divided. Banks want your custom., or at least, you might think so, given the number of adverts suggesting they offering the most favourable interest rates, and perhaps the broadest smile on the faces of their staff. However, when Alba Arikha recently had to open a bank account in Greece, she found herself having to fight hard just to give them her money
18/06/22·28m 16s

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira: Amazon Defenders

Brazilian police say a suspect has confessed to burying the bodies of missing British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who disappeared in a remote part of the Amazon rainforest on 5 June. Mr Phillips' wife said in a statement that 'today begins our quest for justice'. Andrew Downie remembers his friend. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority has warned that the service wheelchair users get at airports has worsened: one man was recently left on a plane for two hours after everyone else had got off, and ended up calling the police for help - stories which are horribly familiar to Tom Shakespeare. His work has required him to fly around the globe, and it has certainly not been easy. The reasons the Kremlin has given to justify Russia’s attack on Ukraine are many, varied, and sometimes contradictory. What they all have in common is that few people outside the country believe them. Anastasia Koro says that lying has become so common in Russia, that even the most ordinary interactions now have the shadow of mendacity hanging over them. Crowds have now returned to sports stadiums in Japan, but Covid safety measures remain in place. This means that fans are required to keep their mouths shut, for fear that cheers and yelling might spread the coronavirus. So, it was a strange atmosphere that greeted Hannah Kilcoyne, as she turned up to see her first ever Japanese baseball game. James Joyce's epic novel, Ulysses, has not always been well received: a 'colossal muck heap' said one critic, while another described it as 'an unspeakable heap of printed filth.' It is now a hundred years since Ulysses was published, and today the novel is regarded as a masterpiece, albeit a tough read. Chris Page says that its increasing popularity in Ireland reflects the country's changing social attitudes.
16/06/22·28m 40s

Afrikaans: The Language Which Still Divides

Passengers travelling with Ryanair to the UK on a South African passport are being asked to complete a test to prove their nationality. The airline says this necessary to combat a substantial increase in fake South African passports - an airline found to have taken a passenger to the UK on a fake passport can face a fine of £2,000. However, the required test is in Afrikaans, which has outraged many South Africans who view it as the language of apartheid. Audrey Brown is one of them, and explains why. More than 100,000 Cubans have fled the island this year - the biggest surge since1980. Some have set off on the tested route towards Florida in small boats, but others are taking detours via other Latin American countries. So why this sudden exodus? Will Grant has been talking to Cubans about their new desperation to leave. When BBC producer Mat Morrison was sent to Dnipro in Ukraine, it was his first experience of reporting in a country at war. Slowly, he says, he has learned how to recognise the sound of missile attacks, and what to do when they land nearby. When he first stood for election, Emmanuel Macron promised to shake up French politics. One way he proposed to do this was by radically changing the make-up of parliament, encouraging people from all kinds of social and professional backgrounds to stand as MPs. Five years later, and the French people are returning to the polls, to vote for a new parliament. As Lucy Williamson reports, some of the political neophytes from the previous contest are now feeling rather jaded. The nomad's way of life is under threat. Peoples who have been on the move for millennia are increasingly being told by governments to give up their wandering and settle. Anthony Sattin has spent the past few years with nomads in different parts of the globe, including a group of shepherds, based in a small corner of the Middle East.
11/06/22·28m 42s

Life Under Russian Occupation

Evidence suggests that war crimes have been committed in the Ukrainian towns and cities which fell under Russian occupation. Bodies of civilians have been left behind where Russian troops withdrew, and those Ukrainians who remained in their homes throughout have spoken of imprisonment, torture and murder. Sophie Williams spoke to a woman who managed to escape from Izyum, a city that Russian forces took over back in April, and she revealed what life was like there. Ukraine is effectively fighting a war on two fronts: there is the battle on the ground, but also the battle for public opinion, fought on the world stage. If Ukraine is to continue receiving arms from countries abroad, it must make sure it has those countries' support. That is particularly crucial when it comes to the US, which is supplying more assistance than any other. Tara McKelvey was watching as President Joe Biden tried to persuade people in the rural Midwest that such support is necessary. It is forty years since Argentinian troops invaded the Falkland Islands, and Britain sent a task force to drive them out. Tributes have been paid to the hundreds of servicemen who were killed or injured, but what is sometimes overlooked is the role played by the Islanders themselves. Beth Timmins has been hearing how civilians there used a secret system of radio communication, to help those who had come to liberate them Paddy O'Connell has been a regular visitor to the beaches of Normandy, where his father fought in the allied landings of 1944. On his latest visit, he met the French son of a British soldier, trying to find out what had happened to his own father. Stephen Moss is a glote-trotting birdwatcher, whose hobby has taken him as far as Costa Rica. On a recent visit, he found that ornithology enthusiasts have been kept away by the Covid pandemic, meaning that local nature sanctuaries could close down.
09/06/22·28m 42s

The Arab World's New Drug of Choice

Captagon is a popular recreational drug used across the Middle East and Arabian Gulf. It can temporarily boost a user’s mood - though long-term it is highly addictive. Production is concentrated in Syria, and smuggled across the border into Jordan and onto the Gulf. Officials in Jordan say militant groups are profiting from the production of the drug, and Yolande Knell has been out on patrol with the people trying to stop them. About 2500 miles due south of Jordan, there is another criminal trade at large: the illegal catching and selling of Tanzanian fish. Mark Weston has been to Lake Victoria to hear about its controversial local delicacy: Nile Perch. Celebrations of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee are not restricted to Britain. Elizabeth II is head of state in 14 other countries, and a figurehead around the Commonwealth. Another country which feels a connection to Britain’s royal family is Greece, because Prince Philip was born there, on the island of Corfu. Julia Langdon has been to the spot where the Queen’s future husband began his life. The recent shootings in Texas and Buffalo garnered headlines around the world, but gun-violence is a full-time tragedy in the United States. More than 40,000 people are killed each year by gun-related injuries, and this affects many others indirectly. In New York, there has been a spate of shootings and other crimes on the subway, and now Laura Trevelyan thinks twice about whether to use it. For many Ukrainians, it has become a matter of principle to try and retain their normal way of life as far as possible, amidst the current horrors of the Russian invasion. Those horrors have touched the city of Odessa among others, with a series of missile strikes reminding residents how close they are to the invading troops. When Colin Freeman reached Odessa, however, he found himself in what, at times, felt suspiciously like a regular holiday resort.
04/06/22·28m 35s

The Ukrainians deported to Russia

Allegations have continued to emerge that Ukrainian civilians are being transported into Russia by occupying troops. Some have returned, with stories of being held in camps, and of being tortured. Jen Stout heard about one village near the city of Kharkiv where locals say that 90 people were 'tricked' into boarding lorries and then taken away. The changing borders of Poland mean that families in some regions have lived in different countries over the years, without ever having to move home. Monica Whitlock visited a village where these geographical shifts mean locals speak multiple languages, and sometimes go by multiple names. The conflict in Ukraine has drawn attention to how vulnerable supply lines can be, with grain, gas and sunflower oil among the exports now threatened. If our cupboards and fridges are kept fully stocked, that is be down to the great flotillas of lorries which criss-cross Europe’s borders. Horatio Clare joined a couple of long-distance drivers, to get a taste of their life on the road. The Hungarian composer, Béla Bartók, drew inspiration from folk music, and particularly the blended influences coming from his own country and Romania. He was no armchair anthropologist, but travelled round rural areas to hear the music played in local villages. More than a hundred years later, Nick Thorpe retraces one of his journeys. When Germany was split after World War Two, Bonn was the unexpected pick to become capital of the new West Germany. But four decades later, the Berlin Wall fell and Berlin resumed its place as Germany’s capital, while Bonn was relegated to being a more provincial place. When Rob Crossan recently visited Bonn, he found some locals displaying a somewhat volatile temperament - might this be connected to their city's diminished prestige?
02/06/22·29m 1s

Violent Protest in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has been rocked by violent protests. The country is out of cash, which means it is struggling to import fuel, food and basic medicines. This in turn has prompted political turmoil, with anti-government protestors coming under attack from supporters of the ousted government. Rajini Vaidyanathan was there as battles broke out. It was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who first called South Africa the 'Rainbow Nation', reflecting hopes for a new era of equality for the country and as it emerged from decades of apartheid. Now though, migrants in South Africa are being blamed for unemployment and other social problems - some have been murdered by vigilantes. Shingai Nyoka reflects on this rising animosity with particular personal interest, as she herself moved to South Africa from Zimbabwe. It’s eight years since King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated, following a string of highly embarrassing scandals. But just recently, the former king returned to Spain for a brief visit - the first since he left. Plenty of Spanish people turned out to welcome their former ruler with full-on patriotic fervour, but as Guy Hedgecoe explains, such sentiments were far from universal. The death toll in Ukraine numbers the tens of thousands, but there are fears that vastly more people could die as an indirect result of the conflict, as supply lines for wheat and fertiliser are severely disrupted. Jonathan Head reports on how the war is affecting rice farmers thousands of miles away in Thailand. The war in Ukraine has presented a huge logistical challenge - for citizens and the military, and also for journalists. Joe Inwood has spent most of his BBC career as a producer, but as his team moved across Ukraine, he found himself having to help run a hotel after all the local staff left town.
28/05/22·28m 44s

Escape From Russian Occupation

Reports have emerged of terrible atrocities committed against civilians in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. Some people have tried to escape, braving bullets and artillery fire in order to reach government-controlled areas. Among those helping them are volunteers carrying out rescue missions by driving into Russian held territory to pick up those wanting to flee and then taking them back out again across enemy lines. Carrie Davies has met them. Some of those who have escaped from Russian-held territory have fled Ukraine altogether - nearly a million people have ended up in neighbouring Romania. Once again, volunteers have stepped up to the mark, helping to provide the new arrivals with food, housing and healthcare. As Tessa Dunlop found, some say they feel a particular affinity with people who have lost so much, and suffered so greatly. There is a good reason why companies have chosen to base themselves in the Cayman Islands. This Caribbean nation has no income tax, or corporation tax, but does have a great climate, and luxury lifestyle for the wealthy. But because so many in the corporate world have made the Cayman Islands their home, a huge number of other people are now needed to keep basic services going: cleaners, drivers, hotel workers. James Innes-Smith has been hearing how different their lives are from the people they work for. The western US state of Montana is beset by division over what to do about wolves. They were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s, and some credit them with keeping down the numbers of elk and other wildlife, promoting the fortunes of other animals. Yet critics say wolves are vermin, and that they ravage local livestock. Emilie Filou went to see for herself. The national parks of America pride themselves on being unspoiled, yet there are other places even more remote. The Mustang area of Nepal is an enclave, jutting into what is, geographically, Tibet, and with its own customs and traditions. However, when Peter Morgan reached Mustang, he found plans afoot to encourage more people to come.
26/05/22·29m 3s

Disappeared: The Women Gone Missing in Afghanistan's Prisons

First hand reports from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Estonia, Lebanon and the German village of Oberammergau. Taliban promises to respect women's rights seem to be fading. Reports have emerged of Afghan women being arrested for alleged “moral crimes,” and thrown in prison without charge. Ramita Navai managed to get into one of the prisons where these women are being held. Cambodia has some of the greatest Buddhist sites in the world, but many of these have suffered at the hand of looters. As Celia Hatton discovered, some of this theft has occurred very recently. Estonia is attempting to win over its Russian-speaking minority. One third of the country speak Russian as their first language, and in some regions, almost everyone does. Could Vladimir Putin use an alleged attack on Russian speakers’ rights as an excuse to intervene? Estonia's innovative strategy is to offer them a series of fun events in the Estonian language, which Lucy Ash went to watch. The politics of Lebanon are complex, and often bitterly divided. Lebanon held an election last weekend, against a backdrop of economic collapse. Leila Molana-Allen found many voters hoping that this time round, change may be afoot, although predictable cynicism was also evident. This year, there is a new donkey for the Oberammergau Passion Play. In a tradition going back to the Seventeenth Century, two thousand residents of this small village in Bavaria present the tale of Jesus Christ and the crucifixion, for one season, every decade. Obergammerau has once again welcomed spectators to what is a unique performance. Adrian Bridge went to meet the cast.
21/05/22·29m 4s

Lockdown Life in Shanghai

China has been warned by the World Health Organisation that its so-called 'zero covid' approach is unsustainable. Hundreds of millions of people have been kept under lockdown in cities across the country, leaving the economy severely jolted, and critics calling it an abuse of human rights. However, the Chinese authorities seem determined to carry on as before, and have announced that the city of Shanghai will be placed under its tightest restrictions yet. The news came as a disappointment to Rebecca Kanthor, who has already gone through seven weeks of lockdown. Choosing what to wear in El Salvador can be literally a matter of life or death. The country is plagued by gang violence, with eighty people murdered over just one weekend this year. The government has promised a crackdown, passing new laws which allow police to lock up suspected gang members as young as 12. Mike Lanchin lived in El Salvador during the 1990s, and when he returned for a visit with his family, he quickly learned the value of covering up. More than five million people have now fled Ukraine, and have been taken in by countries across Europe. Switzerland has offered homes to tens of thousands, giving them an immediate right to work, and other benefits too. Yet this hospitality has left refugees from other countries questioning what they see as double standards. As Imogen Foulkes explains, plenty have run from war and persecution elsewhere, and yet have not found the Swiss to be quite so accepting. Germany has been commemorating the end of World War Two - a complicated anniversary, remembering both the country's dead, but with an eye to its Nazi past. This year’s anniversary comes amidst Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and furious arguments in Germany about how far to intervene. John Kampfner was invited to one remembrance ceremony in the old East Berlin, where Germany’s complex relationship with Russia was to the fore. Women’s boxing celebrated its biggest night ever recently, as Ireland’s Katy Taylor defended her world lightweight title against Amanda Serrano from Puerto Rico, at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Women’s boxing has always struggled to win recognition, but women have fought hard to prove it is not just a men’s sport. Steve Bunce was ring-side at the recent bout.
14/05/22·29m 1s

The Story of a Russian War Crime

The small city of Bucha, not far from Kyiv, has experienced some of the worst atrocities of the Russian invasion so far. It's understood that hundreds of civilians have been tortured, raped and murdered by Russian forces. Yogita Limaye has been hearing the story of one woman who experienced this horror first hand. The war in Ukraine has caused particular worry in Finland, which shares a long border - and turbulent history - with Russia. Finland only became independent from Russia in 1917, and, historically, the price of sustaining that independence was neutrality. Joining other European countries in NATO was out of the question - and by and large, most Finns were not interested anyway. But what a difference a few weeks make, as Allan Little found. As far as Singapore’s prosecutors were concerned, he was a drug smuggler, pure and simple. His mother though insisted he was a victim, a man of limited intelligence, who’d been tricked into carrying a small amount of heroin across the border from his home in Malaysia. Whatever the truth, the execution of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was provided a moment of reflection in Singapore when it comes to the country's tough justice system, reports Suranjana Tewari. Journalism has long been a risky business in The Philippines - nearly a hundred journalists have been murdered there in the past decade. So when one receives a death threat there, they know it’s to be taken seriously. And that’s what happened to Howard Johnson, as the country's presidential election starts to heat up. He has found himself under fire from internet trolls who have taken exception to his attempt to pose the tough questions to election front-runner Bong Bong Marcos - son of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. Somalia is a country which has suffered its fair share of problems – and to outsiders, it is seen perhaps as a country savaged by war. And yet, there is a side to Somalia and Somalian people which we never get to see, says Mary Harper. For a start, she says, wherever they settle, one thing you can be sure of is there’ll be a place to get a bit of personal pampering – and with it, the chance to learn more about the reality of Somalian culture.
07/05/22·27m 47s

Tackling the Cocaine Trade in Honduras

The former President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez was voted out of power in January, and within weeks was arrested, accused of being part of a major international drugs ring. This month, Mr Hernandez was extradited to the US, where he will face charges of drug trafficking and money laundering - charges he denies. Meanwhile, back in Honduras, police say they are now trying to destroy the drug industry, and invited our correspondent Will Grant along to show how. A British man was killed this week while fighting in Ukraine, emphasising the international aspect of the crisis. Thousands of foreigners have travelled to Ukraine to take up arms, encouraged by the country’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky. But why would someone travel to a distant country, to fight in towns and cities they may have struggled to find on a map? Hugh Barnes found a wide variety of reasons - and people - who have answered the call. Across Ukraine, there are reminders of the warm relationship the country once had with its neighbour, Russia. The southern city of Odessa had a particular closeness, many of its population being native Russian speakers. But Odessa has been hit by Russian missiles, and with significant civilian casualties. Jen Stout tried to find out what local attitudes are now. One of the tragedies of climate change is that those who will suffer worst from its consequences are often those who played little role in causing it - he West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe is particularly exposed, a poor place made poorer still by environmental damage. Now it may have a chance to alleviate some of that poverty, by selling the oil which some believe lies under its ocean. Yet it is burning oil which has caused the country's climate problems in the first place, presenting a dilemma which Tamasine Forde witnessed first hand. As Emmanuel Macron savours victory in the French election, some will be putting it down in part to the studied attempt to change his image and look more casual. Often depicted as stuck up and aloof, Monsieur Macron appeared in a much-publicised, and indeed much-mocked photograph, with no jacket and an open-neck shirt. However, while the re-elected President may have swapped his tie for tufts of very-visible chest hair, the same cannot be said of his staff. Indeed, the 'Macronistas' seem keen to preserve France’s international reputation for sartorial suaveness. Our correspondent, Hugh Schofield, found himself wondering whether he should follow their lead.
30/04/22·28m 43s

The Threat of Rising Waters in Bangladesh

Rivers and the sea have long-battered waterfront villages in Bangladesh, but this is a problem now made worse by climate change. Many people have had to flee several times, as land erodes and their homes crumble. Qasa Alom went to meet those forced to repeatedly restart their lives, and joins locals working on a solution to provide more permanent sanctuary. Morocco was once home to a thriving Jewish community, who began an exodus from the country in the 1950s as relations deteriorated between the Arab world and Israel. At its peak, there were several hundred thousand Jews living in the country, many in the coastal town of Essouira. With diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel now restored, some citizens of Essouira are reaching out to Israelis. Elizabeth Gowing found herself wondering whether tensions of the recent past really can be replaced by fonder memories of a one-time shared communal history. When the US and its allies overthrew Saddam Hussein, they promised a new era for the people of Iraq, providing democracy, freedom, and also the rule of law. Iraq does now have a functioning legal system, with police, lawyers, and courts to try cases. But when Shelly Kittleson bumped into an old acquaintance, she was reminded of how justice often works in practice, for those caught up in what is an overburdened system, fraught with delays, lack of training and sometimes corruption too. People from Ireland have often suffered from negative stereotypes, and sometimes from outright discrimination. However, there is one group which claims to be on the receiving end of particular contempt: Irish travellers. That prejudice is not just found abroad, but also in Ireland itself, they say, with reduced access to education, to healthcare and employment. Chris Page has been hearing stories of one man from an old Irish travelling family. Vladimir Putin has sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine by citing those in the country who speak Russian as their first language. Russian-speakers, Mr Putin claims, actually see themselves as Russian, rather than Ukrainian. It is a claim which has been rejected by Ukraine, and yet it potentially threatens the position of Russian-speakers elsewhere in Eastern Europe: is their loyalty to Moscow first, some ask? Latvia has around half a million Russian speakers, and relations are not always easy, discovers Beth Timmins.
23/04/22·29m 1s

What do Russians think of the war in Ukraine?

What do Russians make of their country’s invasion of Ukraine? It is no easy matter to conduct opinion polls in Russia at the best of times, sampling views from St Petersburg to Siberia. Right now though, Russian people are not free to express their opinions anyway, with a new law in place making it a criminal offence to say anything about the Ukraine conflict which the authorities consider untrue. Jenny Hill is in Moscow, and has been keeping her ear to the ground. Globalisation, the extraordinary interconnectedness of modern life, means that the events in Ukraine are having profound effects in places far from any battle. Kenya, for example, has already been suffering from drought, but this has now been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion: because Ukrainian farmers have been kept from their fields, global food prices have risen. Ben Henderson recently travelled to Kenya’s far north, and found what looks like a major crisis in the making. 2018 saw South Korea hold a successful Winter Olympics, in which North Korean athletes were also allowed to take part. Later that year, the then US President, Donald Trump met with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and attempted to tone down hostilities. Watching these events was the BBC’s newly arrived South Korea correspondent, Laura Bicker. Four years later, she is now leaving her post, at a time when relations between South and North are far worse. Yet Laura insists that she is leaving with some sense of optimism. Sports figures famously have short careers, with even the biggest stars having to reinvent themselves in mid-life. Few though have managed it quite so successfully as Imran Khan: already one of Pakistan’s greatest ever cricketing heroes, he ended up becoming Prime Minister. However, the world of politics can be as unforgiving as any sport, and this week, Prime Minister Khan was ousted in a Parliamentary vote of no confidence. Secunder Kermani has been following his dramatic fall from favour. Life has not been much fun for performers during the various phases of Covid lockdown, with actors, dancers and even stand-up comedians facing closed down venues. Musicians had a particularly hard time of it, certainly those accustomed to playing before sweaty crowds keen on dancing, something very much forbidden for much of the time. So when the Belgian rock band, Demisec, were offered a gig, they jumped at the chance. The bassist and BBC cameraman Maarten Lernout did not mind that they were being asked to play in a local prison.
16/04/22·29m 16s

Ukraine: The War in the Countryside

The destruction of Ukrainian cities such as Mariupol has garnered global headlines, but the fighting has also filtered out to the rural towns and villages which surround it. These lack the city’s resources for dealing with the dead, the injured, and the bereaved, and when Wyre Davis reached one of these rural spots, he found even the most day-to-day tasks present significant challenges and risks. Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to occupy the middle ground on Ukraine; he remains on good terms with Vladimir Putin, but Turkey is also a member of NATO. This has enabled President Erdogan to take a central role in efforts to reach a peace deal, inviting negotiators to meet in Istanbul. And this is perhaps the ideal city for discussions aimed at healing division. Istanbul marks the point where Europe and Asia meet, with the Bosphorus Strait running between the two. The Bosphorus also occupies a key strategic position in this conflict, which Ellie House found herself reflecting on as she took a boat ride along one of its busier stretches. A series of setbacks have left Sri Lanka running out of cash, meaning there is now no money to pay for food or fuel. This has resulted in power cuts for up to thirteen hours a day, and prices rising to the point where people are having to skip meals, while hospitals run out of medicine. The protestors who have been out on Sri Lanka’s streets this week knew who to blame, pointing the finger at the government and its economic mismanagement. Rajini Vaidyanathan says that for ordinary Sri Lankan people, the situation remains dire. Once upon a time, VIktor Orban was seen as a brave campaigner for democracy, demanding Soviet troops leave Hungary during the Cold War. Nowadays, he is a reliable friend of the Kremlin - a matter of some concern to his European Union and NATO allies, but something they will have to continue to live with. This week, Mr Orban won a fourth successive term as Prime Minister. Nick Thorpe has met him many times over the years, and has a few ideas about what lies behind his success. How can a city and its people recover from war? This is something the people of Mosul in Iraq have had time to consider. It has been fought over at various points in the past two decades, by US troops, the Iraqi national army, Al Qaeda, and then, by Islamic State. IS attempted to destroy much of Mosul's tradition and culture, yet the city is now undergoing something of a renaissance, as Leila Molana-Allen found on a recent night out.
09/04/22·29m 22s

Argentina’s Memories of war

It’s 40 years since Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands – or the Malvinas – as they are known in Spanish. Nearly 1,000 soldiers were killed in the war – more than 600 of whom were Argentinian. Katy Watson spoke to people about what happened in the war and how relations between the two countries have changed An estimated quarter of a million Russians have fled their homeland since the invasion of Ukraine. An estimated 35000 have relocated across Russia's southern border to Georgia. The capital Tbilisi is a melting pot of several nationalities – all escaping the war. Rayhan Demytrie has spent the past week meeting some of them The island of Taiwan may have its own constitution and a democratically-elected government – but its legal status remains contested. China sees it as a breakaway state, which it has vowed to retake by force if necessary. As events have unfolded in Ukraine, it has left Taiwanese asking if Beijing would follow a similar course to that of Moscow, says Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. People in Serbia are going to the polls this weekend – for presidential and parliamentary elections, with relations with Russia firmly on the agenda. In the run up to the vote, executives from Russian Railways were among guests as Serbia’s president opened the first phase of a new, high speed train line. Guy De Launey was on board The first round of the French presidential elections is just one week away – but, much like the UK, the news bulletins have been focused on the war in Ukraine. The polls all predict that President Emmanuel Macron will hold on to power – so, no change is expected, which is in itself something of a change, says Hugh Schofield. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Hugh Levinson
02/04/22·29m 6s

Russia’s path of destruction

The pounding of civilian infrastructure by Russian forces has continued this week in cities like Mykolaiv and Mariupol even as peace talks were underway. And Russia's claims it will reduce its military activity in the north and focus more on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region are being treated with scepticism. Orla Guerin is in Kyiv. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, described the siege of Mariupol as a ‘crime against humanity’ this week. Mariupol’s mayor has called for the evacuation of the entire city. But the journey away from the city is fraught with danger and a safe passage is far from guaranteed. Hugo Bachega spoke to those that did manage to escape. A few days after the invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz unexpectedly announced a massive boost in military spending. It’s arguably one of the most dramatic shifts in German foreign policy since the Second World War. According to polls most Germans support the new policy, but enthusiasm for it is muted. Our correspondent Damien McGuinness is in Berlin. In Sudan, women have been celebrated for leading the revolution that saw former military ruler Omar al-Bashir toppled. But the Generals still have the upper hand. After two years of sharing power with civilian politicians they staged a coup in October and instituted a transitional military council. Sudan’s women and men have been protesting daily and at least 90 people have been killed in a crackdown. Catherine Byaruhanga was in Khartoum. Nearly 1.4 million people in Canada are of Ukrainian heritage. Many of them trace their roots to Ukrainian immigrants who came to Canada in the late 19th century. Greg Mercer’s heard how they are rallying to the defence of the old country. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Hugh Levinson
31/03/22·28m 50s

Thwarted hopes in Afghanistan

Since the Taliban took power last year, more than half a million Afghans have lost their jobs, and the country now faces a severe economic crisis. There was a glimmer of hope for secondary school girls this week though as they prepared to go back to school - but it was short-lived, says Secunder Kermani. Allan Little reflects on the parallels between this war and a previous conflict, in the former Yugoslavia, where cities also came under siege as Serbian nationalists sought to take back control of the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosnians, like the Ukrainians, while out-powered, put up a courageous resistance, and, in that conflict, Nato ultimately decided to intervene. International observers are increasingly worried that a cash-strapped Palestinian Authority could face financial collapse. Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund described the fiscal outlook as “dire." Meanwhile vital healthcare services are being dramatically affected. Yolande Knell visited a hospital in East Jerusalem. Texas has the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. But for some Texans the law doesn’t go far enough – they want a complete ban. The campaign to outlaw abortion altogether is being played out in towns across this huge state led by evangelical Christians. Linda Pressly visits west Texas to meet some of the activists. Oaxaca city in Mexico has become a much-desired location for destination weddings for both Europeans and North Americans. But the community there is divided over whether this is a helpful source of income for the locals, or an exercise in exploitation which ends up eroding the indigenous culture and customs finds Louis Harnett O’Meara. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
26/03/22·28m 47s

Ukraine’s unified resistance

It’s one month since Russia first invaded Ukraine, under the pretext of denazifying the country. But Putin’s calculation that his troops would be greeted as liberators by Russian-speaking Ukrainians has proved to be wrong. Nick Sturdee has found that the invasion appears to have unified the disparate parts of the Ukrainian population. Romania's Prime Minister pledged “unconditional political support” for Ukraine in February and so far, has welcomed more than half a million refugees. Jen Stout has been to one of the border crossings and finds the arrival of the Ukrainians has helped locals forget their own differences. In Washington, the process of holding those responsible for the storming of the US Capitol last year has reached a new phase, as the first trial - Guy Reffitt, of Texas came to court earlier this month. Tara McKelvey spent time with the defendant’s relatives at the federal courthouse and saw the impact of the political divisions on that family and across the US. Ecuador’s president this year signed a declaration to expand the boundaries of the Galapagos Marine reserve by more than 23 000 square miles. It's being seen as a victory for wildlife conservation and for local fishing communities, as the area had been vulnerable to overfishing by mainly Chinese trawlers. But, finds Mark Stratton, these were not the only threat to the region’s eco-system. The Caribbean island of Martinique is an overseas territory of France. Today it has a semi-autonomous status, but over the last decade, relations have deteriorated with their old colonisers. Lindsay Johns remembers his father, a soldier from Martinique, who fought proudly for the French whilst enduring racial oppression. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling and Polly Hope Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
24/03/22·28m 32s

On Kharkiv’s Frontline

Ukraine saw further indiscriminate attacks across the country this week, including an attack on a theatre sheltering civilians in Mariupol. The city of Kharkiv, like Mariupol, has been under constant attack; bodies line the streets as its often too dangerous to bury them. Quentin Sommerville reflects on the horror unfolding on the ground. The tactics the Russians are using in Ukraine are familiar to countries not just in the former Soviet domain – but also Syria. Vladimir Putin’s military support for President Assad in the country’s civil war helped raise cities to the ground. Leila Molana-Allen spoke to some of the people who have lived through that war Western intelligence sources have expressed concerns about Russian activity in Moldova, which neighbours Ukraine. Moldova is also a former Soviet state, with a Russian-speaking separatist insurgency in the east. Newsnight’s Sima Kotecha spoke to Moldova’s Prime Minister about her fears for what may lie ahead and how the country is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees. In rural Kenya, most of the population live and work on the farms that are the backbone of the country’s economy. But access to electricity is sparse. So in one village, a young entrepreneur decided to give himself a crash course in engineering, so he could supply power to the residents in his village. Mercy Juma went to Kenyanjeru. Last year, Chile elected a radical left wing, ex-student leader who won a landslide victory. The new President, Gabriel Boric, keen to diverge from the style of his predecessors, has embarked on a property hunt in a working-class district in downtown Santiago. Jane Chambers went to explore his new neighbourhood. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling and Polly Hope Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
19/03/22·28m 36s

Crossing into unknown territory

Refugees cramming onto trains brings back memories of the Second World War, amid an invasion that heralds a grim new political reality The war in Ukraine has brought back some uncomfortable memories. Refugees crowding on to trains in eastern European snow to escape a war. Young men volunteering to fight for their country and being sent into harm's way with almost no training. And the possibility that a new Cold War between Russia and the US and Europeans could be upon us, says Jeremy Bowen. When Belarus opened its country to tens of thousands of mostly Middle Eastern migrants and refugees last year and started pushing them across the border into Poland, most Poles supported the government’s refusal to let them in. Yet Poland is now facing a refugee crisis on a much bigger scale. Close to two million people, have crossed into Poland in just three weeks. Adam Easton met one of those Poles and the refugee he is supporting. Attempts to create humanitarian corridors over recent weeks from besieged cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv have frequently been stymied by continued Russian attacks, imperilling efforts by residents to flee. At the border between Poland and Ukraine, Kasia Madera met one woman travelling from Kharkiv to Germany with her children. Australia’s east coast has seen some of the worst flooding in the country’s history over recent weeks with more than 20 people killed in intense downpours. Viv Nunis met some of the residents whose homes had been destroyed. China was the place where Covid-19 first emerged, but it was also the first place to get back to something resembling normality. But that all changed this week, as new cases jumped - and authorities imposed draconian new restrictions to maintain its 'zero Covid strategy'. Normal life for tens of millions of people, says Robin Brant in Shanghai - has stopped, again. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Emma Close
17/03/22·28m 38s

Ukraine’s living nightmare

Millions of lives are being uprooted, or destroyed as Russia's bombardment of Ukrainian cities widens. Fergal Keane has covered the conflict with Russia and its proxy forces since 2014 – and has followed the story of a beekeeper from the Donbas, and his wife. Ukrainian journalists covering the crisis at a distance have been watching the horror unfold and grappling with its implications on friends, colleagues and loved ones. Irena Taranyuk, of the BBC’s Ukraine service, tells of her experience of putting the story out on the night the invasion began. Russia is becoming increasingly isolated internationally, with western companies stopping operations there. Thousands of Russians are packing up and leaving. Many say it’s because they have political concerns about the sort of country Russia will become; others fear of the imposition of martial law or worry that the economy will crumble. Caroline Davies spoke to some of them. More than 180 million voters went to the polls in 5 of India’s states this week, including the country's largest - Uttar Pradesh. The governing BJP has a firm hold on the state, and its chief minister – a hindu-monk-turned politician, Yogi Adityanath is emerging as a favourite to succeed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But during his leadership, he has been criticised for anti-muslim rhetoric. Rajini Vaidyanathan followed the campaign trail. It's 20 years since James Helm arrived in Dublin as BBC Correspondent there, with his wife Charlotte and their young son. The original posting was for a year, but the family stayed on in Ireland for almost a decade - a period of enormous change for the country. After several years away, James and his sons recently made a return trip. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Emma Close
12/03/22·29m 2s

Peace talks in Antalya

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters a third week, hopes are wearing thin of a ceasefire after several rounds of unsuccessful talks. But a potential mediator tried to enter the fray this week: Israel, as Tom Bateman reports from Jerusalem. Russia’s foreign minister is due to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday in the southern Turkish resort of Antalya. It’s a city that’s in other times popular with both Russians and Ukrainian tourists. Mahjooba Nowrouzi visited the coastal town and found opposing narratives about the conflict surfaced in the chatter of the bazaars Russian warships have been circling menacingly in the waters near the Black Sea port city of Odessa in southern Ukraine. The city's residents are braced for a possible assault and many are leaving their homes. For Damien McGuinness, who lived and worked in eastern Europe, their experiences are horribly reminiscent of the traumas suffered a generation ago in Georgia. In 2015, Jamaica passed a law that decriminalised the possession of small amounts of cannabis and authorised a regulated medical cannabis industry. Initially seen as a boon for cannabis farmers, some traditional growers say they can’t afford to meet the strict legal requirements for growing the plant. Rachel Wright visited a farm. The medieval village of Lagrasse in south-west France is home to an eight century Abbey which is divided in two parts – one side is occupied by a group of left-leaning intellectuals, the other by a traditional catholic religious order. This arrangement ran relatively smoothly at first until a contretemps over a festival some fifteen years ago. Since then relations have deteriorated. Chris Bockman went to find out more. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling Editor: Emma Close
10/03/22·29m 0s

Kyiv’s last stand

Ukrainian civilians have taken up arms in the face of the Russian onslaught over the last nine days, while women and children were forced to flee. Attacks on residential buildings and infrastructure have killed hundreds of civilians and the French President has warned that worse is yet to come. Lyse Doucet is in Kyiv has seen the week’s events unfold. Over one million refugees have fled Ukraine in the days since the Russian invasion began. And as the long convoy of Russian military tanks closes in on Kyiv, the rush to escape to neighbouring countries has become ever more frantic. Nick Thorpe is at the Hungarian border and reflects on a different invasion. This week Switzerland, after much soul searching – some might say dithering – decided to adopt all the European Union’s sanctions against Russia. It was hailed around the world as a huge step, a virtual abandonment of the country’s strict neutrality. But was it? Imogen Foulkes gauges the reaction of Swiss locals. The Kasbah of Algiers has been recognised as a world heritage site. The ancient mosques, Ottoman palaces and souks are well-conserved. But the city’s young people are disillusioned, with unemployment levels running high and the splendour of the citadel offers little opportunity for jobs. Rob Crossan spoke to some young men in a queue for liver sandwiches. Media organisations have deployed large numbers of correspondents to Ukraine since the Russian offensive began. Several of the correspondents have experience of reporting on conflict, but Nick Robinson found himself in unfamiliar terrain. This is his experience as a witness to the days preceding Putin’s invasion and the sudden turn of events that everyone hoped would never happen.
05/03/22·28m 45s

Shock and anger in Eastern Siberia

Ukrainians have mounted a defiant response since President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of their country began. But scores of lives have nonetheless been lost. Moscow’s propaganda machine has been in full swing domestically, trying to conceal any Russian casualties from the outside world. Caroline Davies visited went to a village in Eastern Siberia to speak to the families and friends of one of the Russian soldiers in Ukraine – who’s believed to have been captured. Finland once signed a treaty which ensured it would not face a Soviet invasion, providing it stayed out of Nato and gave Moscow to influence its domestic and foreign policy. To date, Finland has remained outside Nato but a debate is now underway as to whether it should eventually join following threats from Vladimir Putin this week. Emilia Jansson reports that attitudes on the ground are beginning to shift. For the majority of those attending the annual Republican Conference in Florida, the crisis in Ukraine was a subject best avoided. Instead, President Joe Biden was cast as their greatest threat. Anthony Zurcher reports on the conference. Thousands of miles off the coast of Chile, sits the Polynesian island of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. The islanders are eagerly anticipating the return of one of their beloved Moai – figures carved out of rock. It was first brought to Chile in 1870. Jane Chambers has been following the twists and turns of the great home coming of one of them. Copenhagen is home to one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid warehouses. The warehouse can store more than 36 000 pallets of life-saving equipment. It’s sorted and packed by robots, humans and mechanised wheelbarrows. Sandra Kanthal has been to the warehouse, run by Unicef, to meet the people who work there.
03/03/22·28m 38s

Putin's Soviet Ambitions

Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago, Russia has been grappling with how to keep its old empire close to it, using a variety of tactics. This week, Russia stunned Nato member states when it embarked on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Andrew Harding spent the 1990s reporting on the aftermath of the Soviet collapse and reflects on current events. Russia's attack on Georgia in 2008 also came in response to the NATO alliance promising membership to both states. And ever since that war, Russia has occupied two separate regions of Georgia. Experts call it a frozen conflict, which Russia can stir up at any time -- as Andrew North found when he visited a village on the boundary between areas under Georgian and Russian control. Iceland has a strong track record for championing women’s rights and gender equality policies. Yet, despite this, the country still sees persistently high cases of domestic violence. Maddy Savage followed a police project in Reykjavik that’s trying to tackle the problem. Zimbabwe’s healthcare system was once viewed as one of the best in sub-Saharan Africa. After independence, the majority of Zimbabweans gained access to education and health care. Now, the health system is collapsing and the nurses and doctors are leaving the country in ever higher numbers. Shingai Nyoka visited two clinics in Harare. The Philippines is holding elections in May and the son of the late military dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Jr has taken a strong lead in the polls. Sarah Duterte, the daughter of the country’s incumbent authoritarian leader, is his running mate, and the two of them have embarked on a fervent campaign to rebrand their respective family’s legacies. Howard Johnson reports from a rally.
26/02/22·28m 27s

Brazil's Deadly Landslides

Flash floods and mudslides in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis north of Rio de Janeiro have left more than 170 people dead. Authorities blamed the intensity of the rainfall yet one of the biggest factors was inequality – most of the worst-affected neighbourhoods were poorer, unofficially built areas. Katy Watson met with survivors who had lost family members and were helping with the rescue effort. In recent years, the Catholic church has been overwhelmed by the scandal of sexual abuse of minors. It’s been exposed and investigated in several countries, yet Italy, which has the highest number of priests of any country hasn’t confronted it. Mark Lowen went out to investigate one such case, and set out to find the priest involved. We visit the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur in Iraq. Believed by many to be the birthplace of Abraham, the site was excavated in the early 20th century by a British man, Leonard Woolley, who recovered bountiful treasures. Once popular with tourists, decades of war and political instability - and now Covid – have kept visitors away and there has been very limited recent efforts towards conserving the site. Charlie Metcalfe was given a tour by a local. Australia has imposed one of the world’s strictest travel bans throughout the pandemic, but this week, finally, the country re-opened to foreign travellers in all states except Western Australia. Australian citizens were allowed to return from late last year, but the return of tourism to the country has been greeted with relief by many businesses who have struggled during the pandemic. Shaimaa Khalil worked in Sydney throughout the pandemic and reflects on being reunited with her husband recently after eighteen months apart.
24/02/22·28m 32s

Return of the Chagos Islanders

When a boat carrying a group of Chagos Islanders landed on their homeland this week, it represented return after half a century of exile. The Islands were once part of British-run Mauritius, and in 1972, Britain removed the inhabitants, so it could hand one of the islands over to the United States, to build a military base. The move has been condemned by the International Court of Justice, and by the United Nations, but the UK has so far refused to allow the Islanders back. This week, they took matters into their own hands, and returned by boat for a visit. Andrew Harding was on board. It was in the 1960s that gas was discovered in The Netherlands, and since then, it has provided the country with both cash and energy security. However, some people living near the gas fields claim that the exploration has damaged their homes, and even destroyed them. Anna Holligan has visited the damaged properties, and met the residents who say their lives have been ruined. Kenya's world-wide image is often restricted to wildlife and beaches. However, the country now plays host to one of the most vibrant tech sectors in Africa, with a particular emphasis on putting tech into practice. The aim is to find a development route which does not necessarily copy the heavy industrialisation of wealthier countries. Indeed, Zeinab Badawi says Kenya is already pursuing a greener path, which could make for a more prosperous future. The French-Algerian writer, Fatima Daas has won huge praise for her first book, a semi-autobiographical account of a life attempting to reconcile being a Muslim and Lesbian. Mike Wooldridge joined her for a walk round the Paris neighbourhood where she grew up. Japan's current Prime Minister is the first for many years to live in his official Tokyo residence, and reports claim this is because previous holders of the post were scared the building was haunted. This should not be too surprising, according to Rupert Wingfield-Haye, as Japanese people regularly take account of ghosts when considering where to live.
19/02/22·28m 36s

Still There: The Migrants Trapped in Calais Limbo

Many migrants still set off by boat from Calais each week, in the hope of reaching Britain. The French authorities insist they are trying to deter people from coming to Calais, by making conditions there tougher. Horatio Clare says they are removing tents, mattresses, and even the blankets people sleep under. More than 150 thousand Russians with learning disabilities live in institutions which have been criticised as inhumane or cruel. The aim, Lucy Ash says, is to keep out of sight people who are considered a social embarrassment. She has been meeting activists in Moscow, trying to provide alternative ways for them to be cared for and supported. LSD and magic mushrooms were once supposed to be a means to tap into an alternative universe, to “Break on Through to the Other Side,” as the Doors singer, Jim Morrison put it. Nowadays, conventional medical establishments are exploring how various psychedelics can be used to treat people with mental health problems. Stephanie Theobald went to a convention in the US state of Nevada, which proclaimed a new psychedelic renaissance. Stephen Moss has travelled the world as a producer for the BBC’s Natural History Unit, seeing plenty of unusual wildlife along the way. But he had a particular, yet unfulfilled ambition to see the bird species known as the “Resplendent Quetzal.” In the end, he had to travel to Costa Rica to catch sight of it. It is sometimes hard to believe that border requirements such as visas and passports are a relatively modern development, passports themselves only being standardised in the 1920s. So how has all this affected those who seek to roam around the continent - for pleasure, for exploration, to experience other cultures? Nick Hunt has made many such journeys, and reflects now on how they have changed, and how they have stayed the same.
17/02/22·28m 58s

The Paris Terrorism Attack Goes To Trial

A hundred and thirty people died during the 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris. Now, one alleged participant has gone on trial, along with others charged as accomplices. What is it like for families of the victims, and those who were there on the night, to come face to face with those they believe may be partly responsible? Lucy Williamson was watching in court, and sees more at work than just deciding on innocence or guilt. According to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, Ukrainians and Russians are one people. Yet the French President, Emmanuel Macron has referred to Ukrainians as: “our European brothers.” Observers have sometimes simplified matters, by assuming that those in Ukraine who speak Russian lean towards Moscow, while the Ukrainian speakers see Kiev as their capital, and western Europe as their allies. Whether or not such a neat division was ever valid, Sarah Rainsford has found it seriously wanting now. Given Russia currently has such a tense relationship with the west, the country is keen to improve its links elsewhere, both political and commercial. That could well be helped by a road being built, which aims to carry more Russian freight and other traffic south into neighbouring Georgia. Yet it is being constructed right on top of another, very old road, and also passes through the “Khada Valley,” a spot famous in Georgia for its beauty and wildlife. So when Amelia Stewart visited, she found environmentalists and some locals up in arms about the project. There are some spectators, and there have been the usual triumphs and disappointments of any sporting event. Yet nobody can claim that this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics have been anything like a normal contest. China has imposed one of the most severe lockdown of any country in the world, in response to Covid, so those attending have had their experience highly restricted. They include our correspondent, Stephen McDonell, who has been attempting to report from the scene. Australian English is famously expressive, particularly when it comes to its inventive insults. This goes for the political realm as well; indeed, the current Prime Minister has just has a few choice words thrown at him by his own Deputy. However, as Phil Mercer explains, this is nothing new.
12/02/22·28m 57s

Snow and Sorrow: Winter in a Lebanon Refugee Camp

Lebanon hosts more than a million Syrian refugees, mostly living in very basic accommodation. Now the country has been hit by freakishly cold weather, while in the midst of an economic crisis. That has left refugees exposed to the elements, with families unable to cook, children falling ill, and little sign of help on its way. Leila Molana-Allen found many in despair. Just as millions suffer from freezing cold under Lebanon’s snowfall, it is the lack of snow which some fear. Those making a living from winter sports are seeing ski seasons shorten, as climate change speeds up the rate at which mountain snow is melting. Yet when Polina Bachlackova went to a ski resort in France, she found some locals sceptical about whether humans were the cause of a changing climate, and rejecting the suggestion that urgent action is needed to tackle it. China has been generous to Sri Lanka lately, paying for roads, other transport infrastructure, and retail developments. Some of these have been outright gifts, some were funded by loans, but others were more of a swap, provided in return for access to land. One of the biggest developments is in the harbour area of Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, where a huge retail, residential, and business area is under way. Anbarasan Ehirajan was given a tour, and found himself asking whether it was what the people of Sri Lanka really needed. Just across the water from Sri Lanka, India has been holding two days of national mourning for the singer, Lata Mangeshkar. Described as the "Nightingale of Bollywood," hers was the voice on the soundtrack in hundreds of Indian musicals. The country's President said her death was heart-breaking, while the Prime Minister said she left a void in the nation. Rajini Vaidyanathan is among those feeling the loss. Italy is just recovering from the annual “Sanremo Festival,” its annual marathon song contest. Often compared to the Eurovision song contest, San Remo is famous for kitsch performances, which millions of Italians tune into. Dany Mitzman joined in the fun.
10/02/22·28m 34s

Myanmar: One Year Under Military Rule

Myanmar this week marked one year since its democratically-elected government was overthrown by a coup. The generals who took over have promised to restore democracy, “once the emergency is over.” However, protestors calling for democracy have been arrested and beaten, while the army stands accused of murdering more than a thousand civilians, in its efforts to quash opposition to military rule. Jonathan Head has spoken to some of those still resisting the junta. In the year since Myanmar’s military coup, three countries in West Africa have also suffered the same fate: Mali, Guinea, and most recently, Burkina Faso. The coup leaders there have explained that they took over because the government was failing to tackle Islamist militants. Henry Wilkins tried to report on what was going on, but found himself arrested at gunpoint. When a volcano erupted off the Pacific Island of Tonga, it triggered a tsunami and covered the island in ash. It also cut the underwater cable which connects Tonga to the outside world, meaning no phone-calls or internet were possible. This was a particular cause of concern for Tongans abroad, anxious to know about the welfare of friends and family. They turned to a small online broadcaster, operating from the outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. Simon Atkinson paid it a visit. US special forces this week raided the home of Islamic State's leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. It appears he then blew himself up, along with members of his family. This was only a month since al-Qurayshi was held responsible for Islamic State's attack on a prison in Syria, where members of the group were held. The resulting battle went on for more than a week, and Shelly Kittleson has managed to hear from some of those who witnessed it. Yalda Hakim was six months old, when her family fled Afghanistan. Going back there recently, she found dramatic changes since her last visit. Under Taliban rule, there have been widespread reports of Taliban soldiers carrying out summary executions. And when she spoke to women determined to maintain their role in the workplace and wider society, she found their efforts were proving dangerous, and potentially fatal.
05/02/22·28m 37s

Mass Migration and the Families Left Behind

Every week, every month, thousands of would-be migrants are still turning up at Mexico’s border with the United States, hoping to get across. This has a profound effect on the people left behind, the families and wider communities where they grew up. Guatemala, for example, has a population of about sixteen million, and some estimates suggest a million of these have left. Megan Janetsky went there to meet some of the many people who have had to wave their relatives goodbye. It is not only poverty-stricken Latin Americans who go abroad in search of opportunity. This programme depends on people who are working overseas: the foreign correspondents who take up a posting, and then regale us with tales of their adopted countries. Any traveller though will tell you that returning home can also be an interesting experience, the chance to see a once familiar country through fresh eyes. Nick Bryant has just gone back to Australia after eight years, and says that it is not just him who changed during that time away. It started with her going to the police to complain that she had been gang raped; it resulted in a court case, with her in the dock. The case dates back to 2019, when a British student said she had been raped by up to twelve Israelis at a hotel room in Cyprus. She then retracted the allegation, and found herself convicted for making it up. That sentence has now been overturned, by a panel of judges in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia. Anna Holligan watched the hearing, and says it focused attention on the way cases of rape and sexual assault are treated in Cyprus. With more than a hundred thousand Russian troops massed on its border, the Ukrainian Army is on high alert, while ordinary citizens are being mobilised for civil defence. In the capital, Kiev, these efforts are being overseen by the city’s Mayor, the former world champion boxer, Vitali Klitschko. Colin Freeman met him while he was out campaigning, and ponders now how well he’s suited to this new role.
03/02/22·28m 47s

Fear and Fatalism in Kiev

More than a hundred and twenty thousand Russian troops are sitting on Ukraine’s border, with talks still underway to reduce tensions, but no sign of success so far. Yet Ukraine has already experienced Russia's invasion of Crimea, and Russian backed troops taking over an eastern region of the country. When James Waterhouse arrived to take up his new post as Kiev Correspondent, he found local people sometimes fearful, but also rather stoical in the face of this threat. The face-off between Ukraine and Russia has in turn provoked division, over how the US and Europe should respond if Russian troops were to cross the border and invade. This debate is particularly acute in Germany, which has traditionally avoided getting involved in conflicts abroad. As Jenny Hill explains, that is in part because of the country's history, and specifically the Second World War. The death toll Germany inflicted on both Ukraine and Russia means some in the country argue that they should not intervene there now. Children from Romania continue to be coerced into a life of prostitution - hundreds every year, it seems. Many of the adult prostitutes on the country’s streets started out when they were girls, and many of these are then trafficked abroad. Jean Mackenzie has found that even children from responsible and loving homes are not protected from those determined to make money out of them. It was a mark of pride for Cameroon, when the country was chosen to host football’s Africa Cup of Nations. Some did have doubts, given that Cameroon still has a major insurgency going on, led by people in the English-speaking part of the country who want to secede. Yet when disaster befell the tournament, it was not of a military kind, but fans being crushed as they tried to get into a stadium in Cameroon’s capital. Nick Cavell was watching the match that day. Politics in Senegal is a lively affair. When the country held local elections last week, one mayoral candidate in the capital had previously been jailed for corruption, and an opposition candidate had been arrested on a rape charge. Meanwhile, the country’s previous president has accused the current president of coming from a cannibal family, with parents who ate babies. However, it is not only the candidates who make for colourful characters. When Lucinda Rouse rented a room in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, she found herself living above the home of a community leader with considerable political influence.
29/01/22·28m 47s

Russa’s Troops: Not Really a Threat to Ukraine?

Russia's tense stand-off with Ukraine might seem like a straightforward case of one country menacing another, with about a hundred and twenty thousand Russian troops mustering on their neighbour’s border. Russia has already occupied the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and is widely believed to be helping separatists in the country’s east. But, as an old saying has it, where you stand depends on where you sit; perspectives can vary widely. Francis Scarr was recently sitting in the rather intimate surrounds of a Russian bathhouse, and found his companions holding a very different view of who was threatening whom. The foreign troops have left, and the fighting is much diminished. Afghanistan is at relative peace, and this has given the opportunity for many refugees to return to their homes. More than two million people have fled Afghanistan over the years, but the many conflicts there have forced more than three million to leave their cities, towns and villages, while remaining within the country. Some of these have now gone back, in the hope of picking up from where they left of, but often to find all that they once owned has been taken away or is lying in ruins. Andrew North went to meet some in the southern Afghan region of Helmand. Turkey seems determined to have influence abroad to a degree - some say - not seen since the days of the Ottoman Empire. The country has already intervened militarily in both Syria and Libya and built semi-permanent military bases in Northern Iraq. Whatever one thinks of Turkey’s ambitions though, the country is not usually seen as a seafaring power, yet it seems that some in the country want that to change. They explained why to Tim Whewell, during a recent trip to Istanbul. A writer who visited Scandinavia once said that theirs were the only languages where it was the vowels that were the greatest challenge. While many struggle with a French “je” or the “ch” of Germany's “Bach,” it’s the a, o and u of Swedish, for example, which can be tough for foreigners to master. And then there’s the intonation: much fun is made of Swede’s almost sing-song way of talking. Yet, there is only so much mockery of their language that people will take, particularly when it comes to the pronunciation of their own names. The many different ways in which Mathilde Weilin's name has been pronouced have given her something of an existential crisis. The Turkana region in northern Kenya is a remote and barren place, where some of the oldest pre-human fossils have been found, remains of Homo sapiens' long-distant ancestors. However, life for the present-day people of Turkana is not easy: the land they live off has been hit by environmental damage, with drought more common than ever – the result of climate change, many believe. When Samuel Derbyshire went to study their way of life, he found the legacy of many previous efforts to help Turkana’s people, and to show them more reliable means of subsistence. And yet he ended up wondering who it was that should be teaching, and who learning.
27/01/22·28m 40s

Searching for Mexico's Drug War Disappeared

The drug-related violence in Mexico is sometimes described as being “like a war.” Certainly the death toll justifies calling it that, with three hundred thousand people killed in the past fifteen years, many of them innocent civilians. About a hundred thousand have simply disappeared, presumed dead, and with their families left to search for them. Will Grant travelled to the northern state of Sonora, and joined locals digging in the ground, both hopeful - and fearful - of what they might find. The long-running civil war in Syria has forced half the country to leave their homes: around six and a half million are internally displaced within Syria, and another six and a half million have fled abroad. Most of those who reached Europe have gone to Germany, many traumatised, having survived bombings, or lost family members in the fighting – some have been tortured. You might expect these people would form tight-knit communities, as victims of similar harsh experiences looking out for each other. However, when Michael Ertl spoke to Syrian refugees in Berlin he found a community divided by mistrust. The streets in Kazakhstan's cities are quiet now, and the Russian soldiers have gone home; the country is returning to some semblance of normality, after anti-government protests which left at least two hundred people dead. However, the country’s Defence Minister has been sacked for failing to quell the protests when they started, and the head of Kazakhstan’s intelligence agency, the KNB, has been arrested for treason. Meanwhile, Abdujalil Abdurasulov says, thousands of protestors remain in detention, with allegations they have been tortured. Here’ a puzzle: what cost nearly a billion pounds, has not been finished, and will not do what it was designed for any time soon? The answer is: a new road in Montenegro. It was supposed to link the country’s main port to Montenegro’s neighbour, Serbia, encouraging valuable cargo to the country. However, the project is already two year’s late, and so far, this road to the sea does not actually reach the sea, but stops way short. Chinese money is involved, along with Montenegrin politicians past and present, and some allege corruption behind what Linda Pressly says is fast becoming another Balkan scandal. If it is true that cats have nine lives, then Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu must be running them a close second. A former BBC journalist, Mohamed has been caught up in no fewer than five suicide attacks, all in his home country, Somalia. Number five came last Sunday; he survived, but another suicide attack that same day killed at least eight people – just another weekend in a country torn apart by violence for the past three decades. So what makes someone like Mohamed continue to do work which places them directly in harm’s way? Mary Harper has known him for many years, and even she struggles to understand how he keeps going.
22/01/22·28m 42s

Serbia and Djokovic: More Than a Matter of Tennis

When Novak Djokovic landed in Melbourne, few could have imagined that his impending encounters on the tennis court would be upstaged by a legal battle, one which then prompted a row between his country and Australia. After immigration officials held the Serb player in a hotel, Djokovic’s father said his son was being “crucified”. Then Serbia’s Foreign Ministry claimed that the player had been deliberately lured to Australia in order to humiliate him, as part of a “political game.” Guy Delauney explains that the affair has touched a raw nerve in Serbia, with an importance way beyond the tennis court. While the war of words was going on between Serbia and Australia, the government of Cameroon was trying to keep everyone’s attention focused on sport, and not on politics. The country is hosting the Africa-wide football tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations, a chance for the country to shine on the international stage. Like any contest, the Cup provides an opportunity for all countries to unite and rally behind their national team. However, there is a distinct shortage of unity among some people of this West African nation. Cameroon has suffered a long-running separatist insurgency in the English-speaking part of the country, and that was where James Copnall went to watch one of the games. You might think Ukraine was used to conflict; it suffered some of the worst casualties of the Second World War, and previously lost millions to murder and starvation, as Stalin imposed communist rule on a population which often resisted it. Today, around a hundred thousand Russian troops are massed on the Ukrainian border, and when Zeinab Badawi visited the capital Kiev, she found a very different mood to what she experienced on previous trips. What have sectarian murders in Northern Ireland got in common with the dawn of democracy in Czechoslovakia, and the start of negotiations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions? The answer is that all of them were reported on by Mary Hockaday, whose career of more than three decades at the BBC has just come to an end. Her departure has left her reflecting on time, and how the world changes with it. The housing market has been rather perky this past year, so it might be a good time to sell your home, but not if you’re a princess, you don’t actually want to move out, and the property in question is a Seventeenth Century palace. Such though is the fate of one of Rome’s more unusual inhabitants, living in one of the city’s more distinctive buildings. The Villa Aurora will go under the auctioneer’s hammer next week, and is valued at more than four hundred million pounds. David Willey has been a regular visitor
15/01/22·28m 33s

Uncovering China's Internet Trolls

Plenty of journalists have had the experience of being “trolled” – attacked on social media for what they have written or said, often in terms which can be both offensive and sometimes frightening. Tessa Wong was trolled after reporting on China, but rather than simply accepting the abuse, she tried to find out why so many people had launched these attacks. What she found was that some of them were not the spontaneous outbursts of outraged citizens which they might have appeared. Rather it seems that key social media political influencers are being encouraged in their work by the Chinese authorities. It should have been a fairly straight-forward task for our reporter in the Seychelles, Patrick Muirhead. A financial scandal has hit the island nation, and various high profile people have been accused of taking money intended for its citizens. Patrick was in court to cover the proceedings, and was also offered the chance to interview the Seychelles’ President about the affair. However, this is a small country, and he was on first name terms with both the President, and with some of those in the dock. He admits, it was quite a challenge to report on the story with detachment. 2022 has started with some speculating that this could be the year in which Covid is beaten – not that the virus will disappear completely, but that it might become endemic, and certainly not killing people on anything like the scale seen so far. Yet even if by some miracle the Coronavirus were to vanish altogether, the effects of these past two years will be with us for a long time. In Peru, for example, tens of thousands of children have lost parents to Covid, and this in a country which already suffers from widespread poverty. As Jane Chambers explains, the death of a family breadwinner can leave children facing terrible hardship, along with the grief. Meeting a rebel leader can be difficult at the best of times, but particularly so if that leader is under arrest. Joshua Craze, was on the trail of General Simon Gatwich, from one of the factions which has been fighting in South Sudan. The country broke away from Sudan following a long battle for independence, but then itself split into different factions. Although a peace agreement has been reached, it’s considered a fragile one. General Gatwich headed north, to Sudan itself, so Joshua Craze tried to find out what exactly he was up to there. History has seen many symbolic acts of resistance: banging saucepans, for example, was an expression of rebellion in revolutionary France, and was more recently taken up by protestors in Latin America. Pro-democracy campaigners in Thailand and Myanmar, meanwhile, have taken to given a three finger salute, taken from the film, The Hunger Games. But there is another historical act of rebellion which might have passed you by: eating cake. That is what people in Denmark did for more than a century, as Amy Guttman explains.
08/01/22·28m 51s

2022: A Year of Recovery?

What are you hoping for in the twelve months ahead? What might you be fearing? These are questions which we often ask ourselves at this time of year, and yet it is hard to imagine a year when they have felt quite so pressing. In this special, New Year’s Day edition of From Our Own Correspondent, we hear about sentiment both optimistic and pessimistic, and about the efforts people are making to rebuild after a year of loss. Plus there is a look at why many people seem to be optimistic, whatever the challenges ahead. 2021 saw terrible, weather-related destruction, which many blamed on climate change. In California, more than eight thousand major fires broke out, their number and intensity a marked increase on what is normally seen there. Justin Rowlatt witnessed the resulting devastation, but says that amidst the burned out ruins, people were still holding out hope of recovery and reconstruction. There was plenty of destruction in 2021 that did not come from nature, war continuing to take its toll in many parts of the world. Ethiopia and Yemen were perhaps the worst examples, but there were also small-scale conflicts, like the insurgency in Myanmar. Then there were the conflicts which never really went away, like that between Israel and the Palestinians. An exchange of rocket fire with Gaza back in May, along with Israeli airstrikes, left more than two hundred dead, the overwhelming majority on the Palestinian side. When Tom Bateman went to Gaza, he met a woman trying to restart her life as a sculptor. The Coronavirus has been described as offering a lesson in humility, a challenge to our belief in humanity’s power to control and manage the world around us. This tiny, sub-microscopic string of rogue DNA, has led to death on a scale most will not have experienced in their lifetime. At the same time though, vaccines and anti-viral drugs have been developed in response to Covid, which use new technologies that promise cures for other diseases in future. Rajini Vaidyanathan saw some of the worst of Covid, reporting from India where hundreds of thousands died, perhaps more than a million. But while off duty recently, she found herself struck by the effects of one individual death, in a place very familiar to her. People often talk about climate change in terms of future trouble ahead: rising sea levels, and crops no longer able to thrive. In the Pacific island nation of Fiji, whole villages have already had to be evacuated, because of current weather conditions, and what that weather is expected to do in the years ahead. Many Fijians traditionally have a strong attachment to the land they live on, so moving from their homes presents a challenge that goes way beyond mere inconvenience. When Megha Mohan visited, she found local people trying hard to retain a sense of connection to their original homes. Despite Covid, climate change, and all the other challenges which humanity faces, many remain optimistic that normal life can continue or be restored, or perhaps that something new, and better can emerge from the ashes of the old. In fact, according to Marnie Chesterton, most people are predisposed to have an optimistic outlook, and to believe there are solutions to the challenges we face.
01/01/22·29m 5s

Turkey's Cost of Living CrisisTurkey's Cost of Living Crisis

What is it like to spend years saving up your money, and then watch as its value rapidly declines? Or to have a pension which no longer pays for even your basic needs? Inflation in Turkey is soaring, with some estimates putting the annual rate at fifty percent. The Covid pandemic has meant that prices are rising around the world, but Turkey's particularly high figure has led some to blame the unorthodox economic policies of the country’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ayla Jean Yackley visited an Istanbul market to hear more. When our correspondent in Colombia contracted Covid, he assumed he would get the medical treatment he needed; after all, he did have health insurance. However, that was not how it turned out, and in the process, Matthew Charles got a first-hand picture of how things work in the Colombian healthcare system: who gets the help they need, and why it is they who get it. Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, has a problem with street prostitution, in the sense that prostitutes and clients sometimes have sex actually in the street, or else they end up going back to the client's homes, where the women may not be safe. As a way of tackling this, the city’s sex workers are now being offered a new place to see their clients: in the back of a van. Linda Pressly was invited to see how this works. Conspiracy theorists are hard to argue with, as any fact offered to challenge their world view can be dismissed as a lie of the mainstream media. So when Stephanie Hegarty travelled to the US to meet adherents of the “QAnon” theory, she did not expect to change their minds. These are people who believe there is an international, underground sex ring, linked to senior world leaders with a secret fondness for worshipping the devil. However, she was surprised at the details of QAnon beliefs, and the tenacity with which supporters cling to them. We are all probably aware of the lasting effect that children’s books can have. Stories discovered in our early years may stay with us for the rest of our lives, so too the pictures and plots. Our Paris Correspondent, Hugh Schofield has long held a candle for Caroline, the bold little girl who featured in a long-running series of French children's books dating back to the 1950s. So it was a great surprise when he had the chance to actually meet her.
18/12/21·28m 54s

Madagascar: The Threat of Starvation

Madagascar is the second largest island nation in the world, yet quietly, largely unreported, its people are falling into starvation. 1.3 million are already suffering what’s called “severe food insecurity,” with the United Nations warning of worse to come. The World Food Programme says climate change is at the root of the problem, while others blame poverty and government mismanagement. Catherine Byaruhanga visited the stricken villages. They are still finding dead bodies on the borderland between Poland and Belarus, a few of the thousands who tried to cross over, most of them originally from the Middle East. Poland was accused of breaking international law when it refused to let them in. and at least a dozen died from hypothermia while trapped between the two countries. Lucy Ash has found that the crisis also left some of the border guards themselves suffering psychological damage, from what proved to be a traumatic experience. It is never great to lose an election, particularly if you happen to be in power at the time. However, the President of Honduras faces a more serious reversal of fortune than most politicians. Juan Orlando Hernandez was not actually on the ballot paper, but one of his political allies was, and he lost. This means not only will Mr Hernandez leave the Presidential Palace, he may also be extradited to the United States on drugs charges, as he no longer enjoys the protection of public office. Meanwhile the woman who won the election is promising a fresh start for the country, prompting wild celebrations, which Will Grant was there to see. Keeping children safe from Covid has been a major challenge throughout the pandemic, but that does not just mean protecting them from the disease itself; relatively few get seriously ill from the Coronavirus. The question for many has been how to keep children's lives as normal as possible - continuing their education, and bringing them up in an era where parents are at home instead of going out to work, where people wear masks, and many are dying. Laura Trevelyan has three children who she’s raising in New York, and has been looking at the pandemic's effect on them and their fellow junior New Yorkers. Plenty of people have pointless items stuck in an attic, or at the back of a cupboard, things they know deep down they will never use, and rarely even look at, yet somehow cannot throw away. Colin Freeman has spent the past couple of decades working as a foreign correspondent, and those years of roaming the globe have left him with some highly unusual keepsakes.
11/12/21·28m 44s

Sleepless in Seoul: South Korea’s Exhausted Workforce

This year's surprise international television success is the dystopian South Korean series, Squid Game, which imagines people competing in a series of ever more violent contests, hundreds dying along the way. The show is a shameless satire on the cut-throat competitiveness of ordinary South Korean life; some characters explicitly state they are taking part in the tournament because it is no worse than how they were living anyway. When Chloe Hadjimatheou went to South Korea recently, she could see what the programme’s creators were getting at. It is not just the death toll in Ethiopia that is so disturbing but also the manner by which many people are dying: civilians have been murdered in ethnically-based violence, while others have starved. Both sides have accused the other of committing atrocities, while denying any carried out by their own people. This war-of-words is being played out on social media with just as much fervour as the physical war on the ground. Our correspondent, Andrew Harding, found himself caught in the middle. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme were never going to be easy, but the two sides cannot even agree how to start. China, Russia, the UK and US are among those with teams in Vienna, hoping to persuade Iran to stop what they believe is an attempt to develop nuclear weapons. That would mean they cease enriching uranium towards the level required to make a warhead or bomb. However, the Iranians don't want to discuss this until sanctions imposed on their country are lifted. James Landale warns this presents a serious challenge to the chances of a deal being reached. Nobody is sure who first came up with the suggestion that one could “See Naples and die.” Nor is it even clear whether that counts as a recommendation or a warning. But if the quote caught on, that is perhaps because it sums up the dark associations many have with the biggest city in Italy’s deep south: less economically developed than its northern counterparts, and affected by all kinds of travails, from earthquakes to mafia violence. The neighbourhood of Sanita is among the city's most deprived, but locals have used a famous church there as the centre for a whole series of regeneration programmes. Mark Stratton was shown around. There are still question marks over how Christmas will be celebrated this year – whether new restrictions might need to be imposed, because of the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus, or even a lockdown. In some countries though, it was already clear long ago that the Christmas period would provide little opportunity for celebrating. In Venezuela, three quarters of the population are now living in extreme poverty, living on less than two pounds a day. Yet as Katy Watson explains, Venezuelans do really like Christmas, and are making greats effort to mark the festive season, even with their circumstances so straitened.
04/12/21·28m 46s

Anti-Lockdown Protests Hit The Netherlands

History has long seen people protest against government-imposed restrictions, designed to stem pandemics. Meanwhile, opposition to vaccination is as old as vaccination itself. Yet anyone who thought rioting in the face of disease was something consigned to the distant past has had a rude awakening this week. There have been violent protests in Austria and Belgium in response to new Covid-related restrictions. However. the most bitter street battles were seen in The Netherlands, where police at one point fired live rounds. Anna Holligan was there. Ever since the coronavirus first appeared, it has caused social division: between those in favour of and against lockdown, or pro and anti-vaccination, and also between those able to carry on working and those who could not. Yet these splits came at a time when many believe the world was already increasingly polarised, and there were signs of that in Chile this week, where the first round of presidential elections were held. Centrist candidates were eliminated, and the two front runners who got through to the next round are a man who defends some aspects of the military dictatorship let by General Pinochet, and another whose critics accuse of having Communist leanings. Jane Chambers says this has happened partly because many Chilean voters seem to have their minds on the past. While Chile may be split along political lines, the split in Cyprus is geographical. Turkey invaded the island in 1974, leaving it divided between a mainly Turkish speaking part, and one where most are ethnically Greek. However, Cyprus has a third, far smaller community: Maronite Christians, whose ancestors arrived from the Middle East many centuries ago. Adelle Kalakouti grew up in one of the Maronite Christian villages, and says their future is now at risk. Plenty of autocratic leaders have attempted to hand over power to their children, but The Philippines seems to be taking this one step further; two politicians' offspring are attempting to win power on a joint ticket. Presidential elections will be held in The Philippines next year, and one man who has just announced his candidacy is Bongbong Marcos, son of the country’s former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. Meanwhile, his running mate, standing for Vice President, is Sara Duterte, whose father, Rodrigo Duterte is The Philippines current President. Howard Johnson has been trying to understand why these family familiars remain popular. When the writer, Tishani Doshi accepted a temporary academic post in Abu Dhabi, she did not expect to end up helping refugees there. But Abu Dhabi has taken in more than eight thousand Afghans, who fled when the Taliban took over their country. One day, Tishani got a call, asking if she could lend them a hand.
27/11/21·28m 49s

The Desperation of Asylum Seekers on Poland's Border

During the Cold War, the border between NATO countries and the Soviet bloc was heavily fortified, each side fearing the other might one day roll across it in their tanks. Since then, alliances have shifted, and Poland is now firmly within the western military ambit. But that means it is also on the front line in what some call a new Cold War, facing Belarus, a staunch ally of Russia. And these days, Poland is not worrying about tanks crossing any time soon, but people: the asylum seekers who were mustered on the Belarus side. As Nick Beak explains, most seemed desperate to cross over. There have been several thousand attempts by asylum seekers to cross into Poland from Belarus. Compare that figure to the situation in Turkey, which now plays host to four million people who fled there, most of them escaping the civil war in neighbouring Syria. Turkey and its President won international praise for accepting these new arrivals, and devoted considerable resources to providing them with food and housing. However, it seems the mood is changing. Ayla Jean Yackley says Turks are now ever less willing to see money spent on helping refugees, when their country’s own economy is in poor shape. The United States plays host to a wide variety of wild animals, such as grizzly bears, alligators and rattle snakes. It was once also home to millions of wild turkeys, a bird seen almost as a symbol of the US, as it is eaten each year for the Thanksgiving Festival. The wild turkey population had declined in recent decades, but a concerted conservation effort has restored some of this lost population. However, Alice Hutton says the birds are now causing havoc in some American cities. Libya might soon be ruled over by President Gadhafi - not that the late Colonel Gadhafi has been restored to life, nor did it turn out that his death was faked. But Libya is holding presidential elections next month, and among the candidates are one Saif Al Islam Gadhafi, Muammar Gadhafi’s son. He was one of his father’s more strident supporters, and the fact that he is being taken seriously says much about Libya today, according to Orla Guerin. The coronavirus outbreak and its lockdowns have meant isolation for many people, but few have been affected like sailors in the Royal Navy. They are accustomed to being cut off, being away at sea for long periods. However, with many countries closed to visitors, sailors have no longer been able even to enjoy shore leave the way they did previously, as Hannah King found when she visited one of Britain’s newest aircraft carriers.
20/11/21·28m 55s

The Battle for Ethiopia

Kate Adie presents reporters' despatches from Ethiopia, the Cop26 climate summit, Switzerland, Georgia and Brazil. The conflict in Ethiopia has left the country's northern Tigray region largely cut off, with millions facing starvation. Among the many combatants now on manoeuvres are the “Oromo Liberation Army” – the Oromo being a people who live mostly in the centre and south of the country. Catherine Byaruhanga was given a rare invitation to meet them. Ethiopia is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change - the subject of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Among those attending were the BBC’s David Shukman, a veteran of ten previous Cops, and someone who has watched at close hand the long battle to see the dangers of climate change. The ski industry is already preparing for warmer temperatures, with predictions that the snow at many resorts will regularly melt, or never form in the first place. So what can these resorts do to stay in business? Simon Mills reports from Switzerland. After former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was smuggled back into the country, and then chucked in prison, he went on a hunger strike leading to protests in the street. What exactly is happening is still unclear, but then Rayhan Demytrie says that when it comes to Saakashvili, it has always been hard to separate myth from reality. The pandemic meant that Sao Paulo's bars and restaurants were forced to shut – and yet there was one kind of food outlet which was permitted to say open, deemed an essential part of Brazilian life. They are called lanchonetes, local eateries with a tradition going back more than a hundred years. Andrew Downie explains why he is a lanchonete fan.
13/11/21·28m 47s

A Cup of Tea with the Taliban Neighbours

The news from Afghanistan is ever more dire. Twenty three million people are at risk of starvation, according to the World Food Programme, a fate which gets ever nearer as winter approaches. For international donors and aid agencies, this presents an acute dilemma: whether or not to work with the Afghan authorities to try to solve this crisis. To do so might require handing over food and other supplies to the Taliban government, a regime which no country even recognises. That is because nobody is quite sure just what kind of rulers the Taliban will be. Since they took over in August, there have been reports of brutality, which in some cases meant the cold-blooded murder of people who were seen as Taliban opponents. Yet there have not been the kind of mass atrocities which many feared. Visiting Kabul, Andrew North has found a variety of attitudes among the Taliban members he’s come across, and they include his next door neighbours. They held a mass funeral in Sierra Leone, after a hundred and fifteen people were killed in a fuel tanker explosion. It happened in the West African country’s capital, Freetown, some of the victims dying because they had rushed towards the site of the accident, hoping to gather up some of the petrol which had spilled out. This latest disaster comes just months after a fire destroyed thousands of homes in one of the city’s slums. And many of this week’s victims were buried in the same cemetery as those who died in a mudslide; that disaster killed around a thousand people. But then Sierra Leone is a country which in recent times has also experienced an Ebola outbreak, and before that, civil war. Walking round Freetown this week, Lucinda Rouse found people shocked and upset, but also sometimes resigned to the misfortune so frequently visited upon them. We were hoping to bring you a report from Nicaragua, where they have been holding an election. However, our Correspondent, Will Grant was not allowed into the country, turned back at the border. But that in itself tells you plenty about the way politics works in Nicaragua these days he says. It is a country where journalists and other commentators are routinely locked up for what they write, and where people protesting against the government have been shot in the streets. Still, Will Grant did at least try to get in, knowing the chances were slim. People often have a love-hate relationship with tourists. They may well bring plenty of money into an economy, and jobs for those who need them. And yet the disruption caused by a mass of visitors is not always welcome. Of course, many tourist spots have had a terrible time under Covid, with lockdown preventing anyone from coming to visit. Some resorts have been positively praying for a return to the days when they could play host to hordes of holiday-makers. Others though have been surprised to find a surge in new arrivals, like residents on the Greek island of Tinos, where Antonia Quirke was among those paying a visit.
11/11/21·26m 56s

Bosnia: New Tensions From An Old Conflict

Bosnia was the site of Europe's worst conflict Europe since the Second World War ended. Fighting there in the 1990s ended up killing around a hundred thousand people. Bosnian Serbs were pitted against Croats, and Muslim so-called Bosniaks. This was an old-fashioned battle for territory, and it only ended when a compromise was reached – that Bosnia would remain one country, but with two regions each having a certain degree of autonomy. There would be one, predominantly Serb region, and another joint Croat and Muslim. This was always a fragile solution, a fudge, some said, to ease the country away from bloodshed. But now, bits of that peace deal are beginning to look rather frayed, and some have even spoken of a return to fighting. While few predict war any time soon, Guy Delauney say this is still highly dangerous talk. You can understand why Poles are just a little sensitive about being told what to do by outsiders. Their country has suffered repeated invasion and occupation, and at times, has vanished off the map altogether. There were wild celebrations when Poland was accepted for membership of the European Union back in 2003. This was seen first of all as a mark of respectability, recognition that it had become a modern, free market democracy. But many Poles believed membership of the EU also took the country another step further away from the embrace of Russia to the east, while leaving it closer knit with friendly countries to the west. Today, EU membership remains popular in Poland, but not so the EU itself. The Polish government has promised to defy instructions emanating from Brussels, and indeed is currently facing a fine of one million Euros a day imposed by the European Court of Justice, for refusing to abide by previous rulings. Adam Easton has been looking at what is one of Europe’s most intense love-hate relationships. The COP summit on climate change chalked up an achievement this week. Delegates in Glasgow signed an agreement to stop deforestation by 2030, promising they would make attempts to reverse it. This follows decades in which vast swathes of forest have been chopped down, to provide wood, and to open up tracts land for growing crops on, often to feed animals which are then raised to provide meat. But the axe and the chainsaw are not the only threat which trees face. Climate change is already altering the conditions in which they grow, and sometimes with terrible consequences for individual trees and indeed, for the very landscape in which they flourish, as Jenny Hill discovered in Germany. The effects of climate change may be slow and initially barely visible, but sometimes they are all too clear. This summer just past saw record temperatures in parts of Europe, and out of control fires as a consequence. Trees in Greece were burned to a cinder, as one part of the country after another succumbed to the flames. Bethany Bell reported on those fires, and now she has been back to watch people picking up the pieces after this devastation, and also talking to those trying to figure out how to stop it happening again. The Europe of today is very much shaped by its experience of war and political upheaval. Bosnia’s conflict was born out of the collapse of Yugoslavia, a nation which itself was created out of the ashes of World War One. The EU was formed as an attempt to ensure that such a Europe-wide conflict would never happen again, and that democracy would become the rule. Even the natural landscape was shaped in part by war, with the need for food security high in people’s minds. And yet it remains an open question whether the lessons of this turbulent past have really been learned. A few thousand miles away from his original home in Vienna, Hilary Andersson spoke to a man who witnessed perhaps the worst of Europe’s modern history. Lying in hospital, just days from death, he shared his memories of the Nazis, and his fear that the value and fragility of democracy risks being forgotten.
06/11/21·28m 54s

Can the world reach a deal?

All eyes are on the COP summit on climate change, its delegates charged with the task of limiting CO2 emissions for decades to come. The mood music beforehand has not been positive, but then this summit represents one of the greatest challenges of all times in terms of diplomacy: persuading many countries to take a short-term economic hit, in return for the long term, greater good of the planet. This would be a tough call at any time, but the times now seem particularly challenging for reaching agreement, according to James Landale. He was at the G20 summit of wealthy nations which has just finished in Rome, a prelude to the COP event. He says even there, it was clear that multilateral cooperation is just not in vogue at the moment. India has a reputation as a country where families of the rich and famous are particularly protected from misfortune, not having to play by the same rules as lesser mortals. However, it seems that now depends on what kind of fame and wealth you are related to. This has been brought to the fore by two recent criminal cases. On the one hand, there is the son of a Bollywood film star, caught up in allegations of drug possession. On the other hand is the story of a government minister's son. His car apparently ploughed into a group of protestors, killing eight. It is what happened next that has made these cases front page news in India. The actor’s son was locked up straight away, despite his apparently plausible protestations of innocence. Meanwhile it took almost a week for the Minister’s son even to be arrested. Geeta Pandey has been following the twists and turns of this murky story. The rich and famous of Europe also have their privileges, not least the expensive spots they go to on holiday. Among these is Monte Carlo, popular particularly with those who not only have plenty of cash, but also a yacht that needs berthing. The capital city of tiny little Monaco has always pulled in such big-wigs, but it seems these visitors are now very much a reason that other visitors come. Because while some choose safaris for a holiday, to see wild animals, in Monaco, it’s the wealthy people and their lifestyles which other people come to see, says Felicity Hannah. International summits may be tough going for negotiators, as we suggested above, but they do at least give world leaders a brief break from their troubles back home. Prime Ministers and Presidents get to strut their stuff on the world stage, talking about major issues like climate change. Just for a few days, they don’t have to think so much about how to run public services, for example, or whether voters will approve of new regulations they’ve introduced to control playground safety in nursery schools. Instead, it is the big stuff they can focus on. And yet, some of those who went to Glasgow will have found it hard to forget the home front. Take the US President, Joseph Biden. Less than a year after being elected, his poll ratings are not good . This week his Democratic Party lost a crucial Governor’s election in Virginia, a vote which many commentators believe expressed popular disaffection with the President and his record. Anthony Zurcher has been travelling with Joseph Biden this past week, and has also been talking to some of his heartland electorate back home. It is not easy finding places for astronauts to train. Some of the original Apollo team who went to the moon practised under-water, to get a taste of weightlessness. They also went to the Arizona desert, to experience a barren landscape that would be similar to the moon’s. What you might not expect is to find a team of trainee space adventurers coming to a small, medieval town in southern Germany. Certainly this was not the kind of company Andrew Eames expected to be keeping.
04/11/21·28m 22s

Children for sale: Afghanistan's desperate and impoverished

There have been reports from Afghanistan of people so desperate for food they have been selling their own children to raise the money they need. Our correspondent Yogita Lemaye was initially sceptical mood as she investigated whether locals really were trading their sons and daughters for cash - and what would then happen to them. For many years, Andrew Roy has been dispatching BBC correspondents around the world, most recently in his role as head of foreign newsgathering. He is about to leave the BBC, and warns that he is doing so at a time when there is more effort than ever being made to stop journalists doing their jobs. This might be military dictators wielding the threat of imprisonment, or democratically-elected governments using more subtle means of obstruction. World leaders are gathering for a two week summit in Glasgow, with an aim no less ambitious than saving the planet from the harmful effects of climate change. One problem which climate change is predicted to cause is an increase in flooding; warmer air can hold more water, which will eventually fall as heavier rain. That is exactly what has just happened in the South Indian state of Kerala. Raijini Vaidyanathan has seen the destruction there. Should we still be burning witches? There are also plenty of light-hearted celebrations where effigies of witches are burned, or simply paraded as figures of fun. Some feel this trivialises a horrific part of Europe’s history. Germany was at one point the European witch-finder capital. And it is there that Sally Howard has regularly travelled at Halloween, to watch celebrations which have become highly contentious. On Broadway in New York, theatres have been closed for more than a year, and although they are starting to open again, they are doing so with strict, covid-related regulations in place. The writer John O’Farrell could have had no idea that all this was coming, when he was asked several years ago, to script a stage musical version of the film Mrs Doubtfire. Now the production has finally had its opening night, but it was a long road to get there.
30/10/21·28m 27s

Sudan's coup: democracy delayed again

Sudan has this week experienced yet another military coup, with generals seizing power, locking up elected officials and declaring a state of emergency. They insist this was all done in order to help the country move towards democracy; they have promised elections, though not until 2023. It is only two years since a popular uprising overthrew Sudan’s long-term autocratic leader, Omar Al-Bashir, and some hoped this would finally usher in an era of democratic rule. But as Andrew Harding explains, these hopes now seem remote. A long way southwards from Sudan, on the continent's Atlantic tip, there is a country where in some ways, democracy is thriving. South Africa has lively political debate, a diverse media scene, and elections which are broadly seen as free and fair. The country is about to hold another round of local council elections next week, and this was precisely what many people fought, and indeed died for in South Africa. Under the previous, apartheid system, only white people could vote for the country’s councils and parliament, while the majority had no say. Among those who campaigned against apartheid was the British writer, Gregory Mthembu- Salter, who is now living in South Africa, and married to a wife from Kwazulu-Natal , who also played a role in that struggle. So it came as quite a shock to Greg and his wife, when they found that the idea of voting just wasn’t very important…for their own son. As Britain gets stuck into autumn, there is a new chill in the air. Meanwhile, on the Spanish island of Ibiza right now, temperatures are in the twenties - a little cloudy at times, but with plenty of sunshine along the way. Good weather is one of the many things which have long attracted tourists to Ibiza, its popularity going stratospheric from the late 1980s onwards. Of course, Ibiza, like other tourist destinations, has been badly hit by Covid and the consequent curbs on travel, with hotels sat empty and restaurants deserted. People are now returning to the island for holidays, but as Kate Spicer found, lockdown has exposed what were always huge social-divisions – divisions which have left some people impoverished. Covid has hit every aspect of people’s lives: in Paraguay, and some other Latin American countries, there is a long tradition of passing round a special communal cup of the local tea, called “mate,” which is usually drunk from through a shared straw. However, in these days of infection aversity, most tend to drink mate from their own cup. That said, it remains hugely popular, and mate also continues to be an important crop for many farmers. In Paraguay though, mate growers increasingly find themselves competing for land with large-scale agricultural companies. These see more profit to be made from growing soy, which they can then sell as animal feed. William Costa has been to meet some of the mate farmers feeling the pressure. The newly-cold weather mentioned above will have seen many people digging out jumpers from the back of drawers, and perhaps pulling coats from hangers which have not moved for the last few months. This is a regular, annual, albeit rather banal aspect of the seasons changing. Not so in Italy, where the swapping round of one’s wardrobe has all the qualities of a ritual: out with spring and summer clothes, in with those for autumn and winter, and with plenty of traditional practices to mark the occasion. Dany Mitzman has lived in Italy for more than two decades, so you might think she’d be used to these customs. Yet once again this year, she has been left scratching her head at the sight of so much ceremony for the simple matter of switching thongs for thermals.
28/10/21·28m 45s

Eric Zemmour: France's new right wing contender

The French political scene has a new kid on the block, or one might say, a new veteran. Eric Zemmour is his name, not one familiar in the UK, but Zemmour has long been well known in his own country as a right-wing television presenter. His controversial pronouncements on race, religion and immigration have in the past got him into legal trouble, but now he appears to be flirting with the idea of standing to be president. Until now, the French far-right scene has been dominated by one political party – indeed you might say, by one family. The Front National was founded nearly fifty years ago by Jean-Marie Le Pen. His daughter Marine then took over its leadership, though she changed the party’s name to “National Rally.” Ms Le Pen had been seen as a serious challenger for the French presidency, in elections to be held next year. Yet some think she’s now being eclipsed by Mr Zemmour. Lucy Williamson went to see him in action: It looks like Joseph Biden will not be allowed to forget the way US troops departed from Afghanistan, leaving the country to fall quickly into Taliban hands again. Rightly or wrongly, it’s likely to be a millstone round the president’s neck, should Mr Biden seek re-election in three years’ time. That is a very different state of affairs to the way Afghanistan is talked about in Russia these days, or rather not talked about. Military parades there tend to focus on the Soviet Union’s victory in World War Two, while some politicians like to boast about more a more recent conflict, Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea in 2014. Far less is said about how Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan in 1979, only for troops to pull out a decade later, defeated and demoralised. And this silence has proved hard for those Russians who served in Afghanistan, or who lost friends and family there. Now, a new exhibition is allowing veterans of the conflict to express through art the trauma they suffered. Francis Scarr went along to see it: As a health correspondent for the BBC, Tulip Mazumdar has reported on medical problems around the world, and one she has seen plenty of is women suffering miscarriages. It is a loss whose seriousness is often not recognised, with many women suffering a form of grief every bit as serious as when a living person dies. And it’s a common problem too; in the UK, it has been estimated that a quarter of pregnancies are lost. However, knowing all this, and having reported on it for many years, could not have prepared Tulip for the many miscarriages she herself went on to suffer, and which she frankly admits, she is still struggling to come to terms with. People do sometimes hold funerals for babies who are miscarried or still-born. But whether for a child or an adult, funerals serve many purposes: they allow people to express publicly their grief, in the company of friends and families who are there to support them. They may be an opportunity to look back on the life of the person who died, and to recall what they meant to those who knew them. What you do not expect is for funerals to provide the chance for a quick buck to be made, and yet that’s exactly what happens in parts of eastern Nigeria. And it’s not just funerals, weddings too may be targeted by extortionists, unwilling to allow the proceedings to go ahead, unless they are paid off. It is something Olivia Ndubuisi has seen for herself: We all need a break now and then, and that might involve a holiday. But is that something you would grant to prisoners? That is exactly what happens in parts of Brazil, where occupants of the country’s jails are given occasional home leave. You might think this sounds absurdly indulgent, the sign of a country that has gone soft on those who break the law. In fact, Brazil’s prisons are notoriously harsh, with assault and murder common. The actual purpose of giving prisoners a break from their sentence is to encourage them not to end up back there, after they’re released, as Andrew Downie discovered. For details of organisations which offer advice and support with pregnancy related issues, go online to
23/10/21·28m 33s

Nostalgia For Gaddafi

Libya has been marking an anniversary of sorts this week: ten years since the dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was killed, having been toppled from power as part of the Arab Spring. Since then, elections have been held, and a much-delayed election for a new President is due at the end of this year. But few have much faith in this process. Whole swathes of Libya are beyond the control of the national government in Tripoli. So it’s perhaps not surprising in these circumstances that some Libyans are nostalgic for the days of Gaddafi’s rule, despite the human rights abuses which took place. Among those who remain loyal is the man who was once Gaddafi’s advisor, and sometime interpreter. Tim Whewell has been talking to him. Democracy in Libya may be very much a work in progress, but here in Europe, there are some who feel that long-standing democracies are also being threatened. The murder in Britain of the MP, David Amess was described by many as an attack on democracy itself. And that suggestion had echoes from a recent killing in the Peter De Vries was famous as an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. He ignored repeated threats to his life, while he bravely uncovered the power of international criminals. This week, two men went on trial in Amsterdam, accused of murdering him. It was an act the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, said was “an attack on the free journalism so essential for our democracy". But then Mr Rutte has himself had to change his habit of cycling alone through Holland’s streets, because he too has received death threats. Anna Holligan reports. During its twenty year presence in Afghanistan, American troops brought in billions of dollars’ worth of gear, and quite a lot of it seems to have found its way into the hands of smugglers, who brought it across the border to neighbouring Pakistan. Some of it is still sold furtively in small towns, but one Lahore shopkeeper is making a good living by selling very openly this stolen US Army equipment. Ironically, he considers himself an implacable enemy of all things American, and a supporter of the Taleban. Ali Kazmi went to meet him. With just days to go until the COP26 summit on climate change, there’s ever more pressure being applied to countries to explain how they propose to get to net zero or in other words, how to reach the point where they do not contribute any net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. They’re being encouraged both to set targets, and to outline what measures they will introduce to reach them. But there’s an island in Denmark which has already gone one stage further and become “carbon positive.” Ritula Shah went to Samsoe to find out how they've done it. When you think of ancient mummies, you might think of Egypt, with its famously preserved pharoes and other leading lights of that ancient civilisation. In fact, the oldest mummies in the world were discovered in Chile. They were discovered in 1917 by a German archaeologist, but it took decades for the mummies to be correctly dated, and identified as part of the Chinchorro civilisation. And they’re still not on the tourist map, the way that the pyramids and their long dead occupants are. Jane Chambers travelled into the heart of what was once Chinchorro country, to see the mummies for herself.
21/10/21·28m 47s

Disillusion in Iraq

When western troops overthrew Saddam Hussein, the argument was that this would turn Iraq from a dictatorship into a democracy. And they have indeed held elections there; the latest vote for a new Iraqi parliament took place last Sunday. Yet when it comes to actually voting, tribal and religious affiliation appear to have trumped any ideological leanings, and with a heavy dose of apathy and disillusionment thrown in, says Lizzie Porter. As with Iraq, Japan also faces much disillusionment with democratic politics. The last election saw only a little over half the voting population turn out, and it’s not hard to see why: in almost every single contest, the same party has won. Now, the Liberal Democrat Party has chosen a new leader, and he automatically became interim prime minister, pending a general election later this month. It is an election nobody expects him to lose, but was the country’s new leader welcomed with great excitement and fanfare? Hardly, says Rupert Wingfield-Hayes: According to mythology, Rome was founded by a pair of twins who had been raised by wolves. But Romulus and Remus might have been surprised to know that in the early Twenty First Century, the “eternal city” would have wild wolves spotted near its airport. Meanwhile wild boars and other animals have been stalking the streets, feasting on the rubbish that sits uncollected. It’s all just one sign of the extent to which Rome has not been particularly well run in recent years, maladministration and the mafia making easy bedfellows. Tomorrow, Romans will have the chance to choose a new mayor, hoping they save the city from this plight. Italian politics is, of course, often rather colourful, and the two remaining candidates in this contest are a radio star with links to the far right, and a former Economics Minister, who has attempted to seduce voters by serenading them with a bit of bosa nova guitar. Watching this spectacle is long-term Rome resident, Joanna Robertson. Someone once said that when it came to British politics, there had only been three issues in recent elections: Brexit, Brexit and Brexit. This was not a subject that other countries necessarily wanted to focus on, most governments having enough challenges of their own to think about. Yet, for the Republic of Ireland, the UK’s rows over Europe were always going to make their mark; the country has so much trade with Britain, as well as an open border with Northern Ireland. Emma Vardy says that the latest developments in the Brexit saga, have left Irish people exasperated, and also rather sad. It was the writer William Faulkner who famously said “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That’s something which another writer, Colin Freeman, discovered, when he visited Ukraine this month. He was there to hear about a new memorial and museum for the “Babi Yar” massacre, an atrocity which took place in 1941. German Nazi occupiers shot dead more than thirty thousand Jews there, and later, would use the same site to kill gay people, prisoners of war, and the mentally ill - some of the worst mass shootings in human history. Plans for a new museum about the massacres have been underway for some time, but it’s a development, which Colin Freeman say,s tells us much about present day Ukraine, as well as about the moment in history being commemorated.
16/10/21·28m 43s

Drug dealing, murder and gentrification: the persisting contrasts of Marseille

Stories from France, Burkina Faso, Tajikistan, Austria and Turkey. It's fifty years since the release of “The French Connection,” a fast-moving cops and gangsters thriller, which focused attention on Marseille, and the drug dealers based there. Half a century on, much has changed in this southern French city; some areas have been gentrified, while the port has had a substantial makeover. And yet, the presence of the drug trade remains, and now the French President has stepped in. With a wave of drug related killings in Marseille this year, Emmanuel Macron is paying a high profile visit, promising to help tackle these problems. Chris Bockman explains that many there feel they’ve heard it all before: He was known as “Africa’s Che,” and like Che Guevara, Thomas Sankara died young at the hands of gunmen who apparently took exception to his leftist policies. Yet Sankara was no jungle guerrilla – he was the President of Burkina Faso. And he was killed during a coup in the West African nation. Thirty-four years later, fourteen men have gone on trial, accused of complicity in that assassination. It’s hard to overstate what Sankara meant for Burkina Faso, and indeed for supporters across Africa and the wider world. He was credited with vast improvements in literacy, giving land to the poor, and above all, with instilling a pride among his people – he rejected continuing French influence in the region. Yet critics insist that Sankara was an autocrat, one who had his opponents tortured, and sometimes killed. Henry Wilkins has been trying to separate the man from the myth: The fate of Afghanistan continues to be a source of concern round the world. The country is facing financial disaster, with shortages of basic goods like food, and it’s also suffered repeated attacks by the militant group which calls itself Islamic State Khorasan. Last week, forty-six people died in a bombing which Islamic State claimed as one of theirs. This week, the United Nations held a special meeting, to try to work out how to give aid to Afghanistan, without it getting into the hands of the Taliban, now in charge of the country. All this instability is of particular concern to the countries bordering Afghanistan, like Russia, Pakistan, and also – to the north, Tajikistan. Tajikistan has had its own battles with Islamic militants. More than that, about a quarter of Afghans are of Tajik ethnicity, so problems in one country have a habit of spilling across the border. It’s a border well known to Abdujalil Abdurasulov, who has spent time reporting on both sides of it. He’s been thinking about what the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan might mean for its neighbour. There was a time when Austria was seen as a hive of political intrigue. Back when the Hapsburgs ruled an empire, the plotting and manoeuvring at their palace in Vienna could affect half of Europe. Then, after the Second World War, Austria’s neutral status between the west and the Soviet bloc made it a base for many a spy and secret agent. Things had appeared to calm down – the country became known for its skiing and strudel more than any Machiavellian goings on. But now, it seems, the intrigue is back. This week, Austria’s youthful Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz had to step down, following accusations that he had bribed a tabloid newspaper to get favourable coverage. This came only a few years after Mr Kurz’s one-time coalition partner was caught in a sting, apparently prepared to offer government contracts to a woman he thought represented Russian oligarchs. Feeling confused? Bethany Bell has been untangling this web of allegations: Wherever there’s mass tourism, you will find the escort industry flourishing, selling very personal services, and Turkey is no different. The‘gigolos’ as they’re known there offer these services to men and women. And just like other people dependent on tourism, they’ve been badly hit by the coronavirus lockdown, which saw the number of foreign visitors to Turkey plummet – as Sally Howard explains Producer: Paul Moss
14/10/21·28m 46s

A Haitian Odyssey Across The Americas

In recent weeks, images of thousands of Haitian migrants living in squalid conditions in a temporary camp in Texas have caused widespread shock and anger in the United States. US Border patrol agents on horseback forced many of them back across the Rio Grande into Mexico. Thousands more were deported back to Haiti, which is in the grip of its deepest economic and political crisis for years. The US Special Envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned last month in protest at the Biden Administration’s deportations policy, which he described as “inhumane” and “counterproductive”. Some of the migrants say it was also arbitrary, with no clarity about the process deciding who made it into the US and who was sent home. Will Grant met two families, at the US-Mexico border and in Haiti, whose journeys north came to very different ends: Last year, Thailand was rocked by student-led protests, which for the first time broke a taboo on criticising the monarchy. But the Thai government led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha fought back, using a raft of repressive laws to prosecute the protest leaders. Together with a rapid rise in Covid infections, that appeared to put a stop to the street rallies. The protest gatherings have now resumed but on a smaller scale. As Jonathan Head has been finding out, the heady optimism of the students last year has been replaced by a harder-edged realism over just how long it might take to reform Thailand’s politics. Last weekend, thousands of people from 150 towns and cities across Brazil joined street protests against its President, Jair Bolsonaro. Many of them were angry about his handling of the pandemic which has killed at least 600,000 Brazilians so far. Not all the criticism is centred on Covid, though. Some of his former supporters are now calling for his resignation too – and their concerns are more ideological. The President is as combative as ever – and he still has control of Congress, though his public support has slumped to its lowest level yet in opinion polls. Katy Watson reports from Sao Paulo. Questions about the future of coal have caused some of the deepest divisions in modern Australia. The debate may soon get even sharper as COP26 and other climate-change summits try to push rich nations to set a faster pace in giving up fossil fuels. Australia still uses coal to generate about 70% of its electricity, making it the most carbon-polluting nation per person in the world. As Phil Mercer explains, the country’s vast natural resources help fuel its domestic politics, as well as its power stations. And the BBC’s new Middle East correspondent Anna Foster offers some personal first impressions of settling in to her posting to the Lebanese capital, Beirut - and of the extraordinary resilience which keeps the city's people going. Producer: Polly Hope
09/10/21·28m 42s

Bumps in the road for the Czech Republic

The Czech election this week will decide whether embattled billionaire businessman Andrej Babis gets another four-year term as Prime Minister. He’s under pressure from new revelations in the Pandora papers – seeming to show that he was involved in the purchase of 16 properties on the French Riviera using offshore companies. Mr Babis has denied any wrongdoing: “I don’t own any property in France,” he said. “It’s nasty, false accusations that are meant to influence the election.” He has always governed in coalition – but he now faces a tough challenge from the centre-right opposition and also has the far-right nipping at his heels. So which way are the Czechs heading? Rob Cameron reports from Prague. Over the past two months – like many international organisations - the BBC has been busy organising a way out of Afghanistan for many of its staff in the country and trying to get them to places of safety – in the UK and elsewhere. Karim Haidari was one of them. After a nerve-wracking three days spent waiting at Kabul airport, he and his family managed to fly out. They are now safe in Britain – but there’s a lot for him to think about as they try to start their lives again. How can we feed the world – on a planet with finite resources and a growing number of people? Moreover, more of those people are eating more meat and fish – and those animals in turn need feeding, and protein, to grow. At the moment, soy and fishmeal are the main sources of protein for animal feed – but the demand for soy has been linked to deforestation in South America, while the fishmeal trade helps drive over-fishing in the oceans. So now manufacturers are looking for alternative sources of protein. The use of insects has been permitted in fish feed for years, but the European Union recently decided to allow them in poultry and pig feed too. Emilie Filou went to visit an ultra-modern bug farm in France where the animals they raise might be tiny, but the plans and the ambition are very big indeed. The Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea have been settled for over seven thousand years –they’re full of Neolithic remains, showing how their earliest inhabitants hunted seals and birds there. But the islands have changed hands many times since then over their history – sometimes being treated as little more than bargaining chips by their larger neighbours. These days they enjoy a quirky – and carefully negotiated – sort of independence. Mark Stratton asked some of the islanders who they feel closest to in today’s Europe. Smell and taste are the most intimate and evocative of the senses – with a startling power to transport us to other times and places. Reha Kansara recently explored some of her family history in Kenya – and part of her quest centred on a childhood favourite - the delicious potato fritter known as the Maru Bhajia. Would it taste as good in its birthplace in Nairobi? And what else was on the menu during her journeys into Kenya's past?
07/10/21·28m 45s

Silence Falls in Libya

It's not easy to talk in Tripoli; Palestinian anger over Nizar Banat's death; the MH17 trial in the Netherlands; Rwandan forces in Mozambique; a number plate dispute in the Balkans In Libya, the promise of a new dawn after the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime a decade ago now seems to ring hollow. After its revolution came civil war – as militias proliferated and fought for control. For more than six years the country was split between rival administrations in the east and west. There’s been a ceasefire since last year, and an internationally-brokered unity government is now installed. Elections are planned for December. Daily life for Libyans hasn’t got much easier though. There are still frequent electricity blackouts, high unemployment – and regular street protests. But Tim Whewell was more struck by a sense of creeping silence. In Ramallah, a military trial has begun this for 14 members of the Palestinian security forces, charged in connection with the death of a prominent critic of the president. Nizar Banat – who was known for his outspoken Facebook posts alleging corruption among the Palestinian political elite – was badly beaten and died shortly after he was taken into custody in June. The official line was that he’d died of natural causes. But his death sparked some of the biggest protests against the Palestinian Authority in years.. Yolande Knell reports on the case - and the public anger it's triggered. Since 2017, Mozambique has been trying to stop a shadowy insurgency in its northern province, Cabo Delgado. The rebels there claim to be affiliated to the Islamic State – but little is known about the group. It started with small-scale, isolated attacks, but the conflict escalated last year, driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. It is estimated that 2,500 people have died in the fighting so far. This March the militants gained the world’s attention when they launched attacks in the gas-rich area of Palma, forcing French petroleum giant Total to shut down its operations there. To fight back, Mozambique has called on help from military forces from Rwanda – who now say they’ve retaken 90% of the province in a month-long operation. The rebels have now been pushed deep into the area’s forests - but Mozambique says it is not claiming victory yet. Anne Soy has been to the region with the Rwandan forces. A court in the Netherlands has been hearing emotional testimony from those whose relatives died aboard flight MH17, which was brought down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in 2014. Dutch prosecutors have brought charges against three Russians and a Ukrainian citizen: they are all suspected of having key roles in transporting the missile system used to launch the rocket which hit the plane. None of the men have appeared in court; only one has appointed a team of lawyers. Two-thirds of MH17's passengers were Dutch citizens, and the Netherlands blames Moscow for the attack. Anna Holligan has seen and heard some of the evidence submitted by the bereaved. Armed conflict can break out for all kinds of reasons. But a row over car number plates seems one of the more unlikely flashpoints. Yet in the Balkans this summer, that’s exactly what prompted Serbia to put its troops on high alert, Kosovo to deploy its special police – and NATO to step up its peacekeeping activities in the area. As Guy De Launey knows from long experience – it’s always important to consider what’s on your number plate before you set off on any journey in the region. Producer: Polly Hope
02/10/21·28m 47s

Anxiety over Afghanistan

More than six weeks after the Taliban announced their full takeover of the country, Afghanistan is still up against huge challenges. The economy is contracting fast, there’s a punishing drought, and many people are finding it harder to find food, even if they can afford to buy it. The news on human rights and security has been worrying. Journalists have been arrested and beaten up; women’s and girls’ right to education appears to be eroding; and former critics and enemies of the Taliban have been targeted for threats and violence. Jeremy Bowen first went to Afghanistan more than thirty years ago and reported on many cycles of its wars since then. Back in Kabul again, he reflects on the deeper tides of history. On La Palma in the Canary Islands, the volcanic eruption that started last week is still threatening homes and lives. It’s produced a spectacular display of dramatic images. After destroying more than 700 properties, the lava has now reached the sea - which means a risk of toxic gases and dangerous projectiles. The Spanish government has declared a disaster zone and promised ten million Euros to help reconstruction and rehousing efforts. What will the eruption mean for La Palma in the long term – and how might its altered landscape change even more? Dan Johnson saw the destructive power of the Cumbre Vieja at first hand. While it’s now clear that Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party suffered a historic defeat in Sunday’s elections in Germany, the rest of the picture is a little paradoxical. Everything looks a little more complicated than before. The smaller, newer parties have certainly gained momentum – and the old left-right divide doesn’t define voters’ world views as much as it once did. There are still regional loyalties, but also signs that other divides – of age and outlook – are emerging among voters. Are there whole new political tribes being formed? John Kampfner followed the election campaign as the opinion polls swung wildly - and ran into a few surprises along the way. Lausanne in Switzerland, is an ancient place – first put on the map as a Roman military encampment a in the second century AD – and the Celts had a settlement there well before that. It’s also kept a good deal of its heritage restored and on show, with one of the best-preserved medieval old cities in Europe. Respect for the past isn’t just about architecture – or even tangible relics – though. There is intangible heritage too. Heidi Fuller Love recently spent a night shift with a man whose job might be described as public service broadcasting the really old-fashioned way: the nighwatchman, who cries the hours as well as looking out for danger. And like many a British late-summer traveller, Paddy O Connell recently got back from a charming but occasionally nerve-wracking break spent motoring through France. He has a lesson to share for anyone venturing onto the roads … Producer: Polly Hope
30/09/21·28m 56s

A tight race in Germany's elections

This weekend's elections will determine the makeup of Germany's parliament - and set the country’s course for a new, post-Angela Merkel era. German politics tend to be less adversarial, less personal and polarised than in many European states – although there’s still plenty to be argued over. So far the campaign has stuck to the issues – there have been no notable gaffes or dramatic confrontations. But it is a close race and opinion polls have swung wildly. After this year’s catastrophic flooding and the economic shocks of the pandemic, voting for “more of the same, please”, is not really an option. Jenny Hill seizes up how many fresh ideas are on offer for German voters. There's an epidemic in the USA which has cost around half a million lives. Not Covid - this is a drug epidemic. And it was caused by an addiction brought into American homes by major, reputable pharmaceutical companies; They sold opioids as painkillers, despite – as it has transpired in court - being aware that they could be highly addictive. So, patients prescribed them wanted more and more. If their supply of prescribed opioids ran out, some were so hooked they used heroin to ease their withdrawal symptoms. Oxycontin was the drug implicated in many of the cases of opioid addiction. But now the company which made Oxycontin has been told it won’t be prosecuted. Indeed, the Sacklers, who own it, will remain one of the wealthiest families in America - protected from prosecution. Daniel Thomas has followed the Oxycontin story and has met some of those caught up in it. The long years of armed struggle in Colombia are supposed to be over – with many of its rebel factions and paramilitaries officially demobilised and their recruits sent on their way. The largest guerrilla force, known as the FARC, is now signed up to a peace deal with the government it had fought for decades. But the ghosts of the country’s insurgencies are still everywhere: there are over eight million people in the country who’ve had to flee their homes in areas controlled by armed groups. Many thousands more went missing during the conflict, whose fate may never be known. But some of their relatives never give up looking for them. Mathew Charles heard the story of one woman’s life in a time of violence. With a growing population of more than 1.3 billion, and a burgeoning middle class, India is facing an energy crunch in the near future. Its needs are set to rise more than any other nation’s during the next 20 years, according to the International Energy Agency. India is currently the world’s third-largest emitter by country and it still relies heavily on coal to keep its industries running. As other nations are urged to phase it out, how easy will it be for such a fast-growing AND fast- developing nation to ditch one of its favourite fuels? Rajini Vaidyanathan explores the dilemma in Odisha state. Ireland has always been renowned for its conversation – the ease with which people, often complete strangers, fall into talk, relate stories or debate the issues of the day. One recent topic has been the latest population statistics: in Ireland, unlike many European Union countries, the population is increasing - with numbers topping five million for the first time since the middle of the nineteenth century, when famine caused millions to emigrate. There’s been many a boom and bust since then. But now many Irish exiles are coming home. Kieran Cooke, having a drink at his local bar, came across some interesting returnees. Producer: Polly Hope
25/09/21·28m 59s

China's New Rules for Society

The Chinese government is, as ever, staying busy by devising new regulations. It's unleashed a raft of regulatory changes on everything from the limits on how much debt property developers are allowed to build up, to changes in the tax code and the breaking up of tech giants. But the Communist Party has also launched a series of rather paternalistic moves, reaching right into family homes, with measures designed to tackle perceived problems of laziness, or even what the state calls “spiritual pollution.” As Stephen McDonell reports from Beijing, it’s as if there is nowhere that the Party doesn’t know best - and no aspect of life where it’s not prepared to take charge. The French government has expressed its fury after the decision by Australia to scrap a contract to buy French submarines. Canberra chose instead to enter a nuclear security pact for the Indo-Pacific with the US and the UK. “We’ve been stabbed in the back!” is how the French foreign minister put it – and off the record you can imagine that the comments were even stronger. Hugh Schofield has been following the events and says there is nothing confected about French outrage. When it was part of the Soviet Union, Lithuania played host to stocks of nuclear missiles – huge ICBMs, which could have destroyed cities around the world. Back then, Lithuania’s geography gave it great strategic importance. When it became fully independent in 1991, it found itself a rather small nation, of about three and a half million people, and with of lesser international interest. And yet, Lithuania has been rather punching above its weight lately - particularly in recent disputes with China and Belarus. On a recent visit to a small Lithuanian village, Sadakat Kadri, found relics of the country’s past, with important lessons for the present. When the Spanish conquistadors first landed in the Americas they brought new and terrifying beasts with them – from ships’ rats to warhorses – not to mention lethal human diseases. But there was one sort of creature the indigenous Americans DID recognise on the European ships: the dogs. Dogs had already been tamed and kept by humans all over the continent for thousands of years. And they’re still there – maybe not the original breeds, but thriving wherever there are people. In fact, in Chile, Jane Chambers has found them hard to avoid… People who’d love a career in the arts end up doing other things to earn a living – just think of all those aspiring actors waiting tables in restaurants or would-be novelists working away in offices. But some do manage to break through against the odds – and it helps to have a globe-trotting life story as well as a deep well of inspiration at home to draw from. The painter Kojo Marfo has rocketed to fame after years spent working away from his home town in Ghana. Andy Jones has been exploring his career - and how he went from butcher's assistant to art world sensation.
23/09/21·28m 33s

From Our Own Correspondent with Kate Adie

Refugees have been fleeing Iran, as the economic situation there worsens, with food prices going up, and shortages of clean water and power. Meanwhile, there are fears among some people that the country is about to become more oppressive, with a new, hard-line president in charge. It is these conditions which have prompted many Iranians to escape. Iranian Kurds in particular have been seeking sanctuary in the Kurdish part of Iraq. But life there is not always easy. And among this community in exile are armed groups, determined to overthrow Iran’s Ayatollahs. Some of these groups have now come under aerial attack as Lizzie Porter explains: Have they changed or not? That remains one of the crucial questions about The Taliban, as they secure their hold on Afghanistan. Last time they ran the country in the late 1990s, women were excluded from most public roles, and forced to cover up from head to toe. Music was banned along with most other forms of entertainment. With the Taliban now back in power, some detect a new tone: they give news conferences, they have said they want to work with the international community. But this week, the Taliban said that women would not be allowed to study alongside men, nor can they take part in sport. And there’ve been reports of revenge killings, carried out against those who worked for the previous government. For Sahar Zand, this has all brought back memories of the time she met a senior Taliban representative, one who did at least admit to having watched TV: It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Last month, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, called a snap election. Polling suggested he was popular among voters, with many crediting him for a relatively smooth handling of the Covid crisis. This, it seemed, might be the moment to go to the country and perhaps win a majority of seats, something which eluded him last time round. But the election takes place on Monday, with some predicting the Prime Minister will lose power altogether. One particular area where he’s having to defend his record is on the environment, which is proving to be an unusually important issue in this contest, as Jatinder Sidhu now reports, from Canada’s west coast: There was a time when Papal visits were relatively simple affairs. The Pope showed up in a country, held a mass or two for some of his flock, and glad-handed all the right people, both religious and secular – perhaps expressing his admiration for whichever country he was in, and his best wishes for those who run it. But it’s not quite so simple with the current Pontiff. Pope Francis has a reputation for speaking his mind with unprecedented frankness, and that’s what happened this week when he travelled to Hungary. The Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orban, does also have quite a reputation for plain speaking, with hardline views on Islam and immigration in particular. So what happened when the two met? Nick Thorpe was in Budapest finding out. September may sound too early to be thinking about Christmas, but for some people, September is precisely the month when it’s most on their minds. These are the pine seed pickers of Georgia – every year at this time, they climb their country’s giant fir trees, to get hold of the pine cones which grow on them. Inside, are seeds which are then planted to make Christmas trees. In fact, most of the Christmas trees in Europe are grown from seeds that come from Georgia – it’s a huge business. And yet as Amelia Stewart found out, the work of those who do the actual seed-picking is often poorly paid, and can also be very dangerous.
18/09/21·28m 24s

Lebanon's Medicines Emergency

Lebanon was once the embodiment of glamour: its capital, Beirut, was nicknamed the “Paris of the Middle East” and enjoyed as an international playground. Today those glory years seem long gone. A political crisis has left the country without a properly functioning government – and its economy has imploded. The currency has lost more than 90% of its value and poverty has skyrocketed. There are shortages of fuel, water and food - and as Leila Molana-Allen explains, even essential medicines are getting harder and harder to find: It’s a scenario found in so many places around the world: the war is over, no more shots are being fired, no bombs dropped, and yet people are still dying. And why? Because of all the landmines which have been laid during the conflict – which don’t recognise ceasefires or treaties, and can still maim or kill anyone who treads on one. During last year’s fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno Karabakh region, thousands of mines were buried in its hillsides. Efforts to defuse and remove them have already begun – but it’s slow, painstaking, and above all, terribly dangerous work. Colin Freeman has been hearing from some of the men trying to clear up the mess. As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America approaches, it’s a particularly difficult time for those who lost friends and family. Almost three thousand people were killed when Al Qaeda hijackers flew planes into the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. One of the dead was David Berry, who was killed in the south tower of the World Trade Center. He was 43 years old and had young children. His widow, Paula Grant Berry, has been talking to Laura Trevelyan. Travelling through Italy you're bound to run into Mazzini, Garibaldi and Cavour – the key historic figures in the country's unification. From the Alps to Sicily, there are endless roads, piazzas and monuments named in their honour. But new roads call for new ideas - and the choices made about who to commemorate can be surprising. In Ozzano dell'Emilia – a village of 14,000 people near the northern city of Bologna - they've decided to dedicated a new road to a rather unexpected – and flamboyant – personality. Dany Mitzman's been to walk the freshly-rolled tarmac of Via Freddy Mercury. They say that in big cities like London or New York you’re never more than a few metres away from a rat. Hugh Schofield now has proof positive that it’s true - and has an alarming tale of a most unwelcome visitor to his home in the French capital. Producer: Polly Hope
04/09/21·28m 44s

Forever wars – and how they can end

The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has serious implications for global security. Western governments are concerned about the prospect of more attacks on their own turf. But there’s also particular worry that jihadist movements in Africa and Asia could gain ground. Might the news from Kabul attract new recruits to their ranks – especially in those places where international forces have been deeply involved in fighting them back? The various armed groups allied with Al Qaida and the Islamic State across the Sahel and east Africa have been wreaking havoc for more than a decade now. Andrew Harding has reported on many of those wars, and recent events have brought back vivid memories… and hard questions… In Afghanistan itself, some among the Taliban now in charge of the country again have grievances of their own, after losing relatives and comrades killed in airstrikes and night raids over the past twenty years. So how will they rule, and treat their old enemies? Kate Clark was the BBC correspondent in Kabul in the final years of the last Taliban regime, where she witnessed the fall of the city in 2001 – and she has done so again in 2021. She’s seen rulers come and go – and how after each change of regime, cycles of revenge have been fed, prolonging the conflict. After a week of chaos, she considers a longer view of four decades of war. Reporting from Israel often inevitably revolves around the politics of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the basic, day-to-day issues – town planning, health care, education – are complicated by this central problem. So imagine the challenge of policing in such a divided setting. For some time, Palestinian citizens of Israel have reported rising violence within their communities – not politically motivated, but driven by organised crime. The mobsters’ trade in drugs and weapons, and their vendettas, have blighted many areas – and left many families bereaved. Yolande Knell has spoken to several families trying to cope with the aftermath. In Spain, paying the rent is often a political issue – and there’s a long history of squatting. After the property crash of 2008, many families fought to stay on in homes that did not belong to them, because they couldn’t afford their mortgages any more. In cities like Barcelona, while prices slumped, speculators moved in and bought up buildings at knock-down prices. Thousands of flats are still standing empty. Some have been illegally occupied by people who just can’t afford a market rent and needed a roof over their heads. But not all squatters actually live in the homes they take over. Criminals have spotted an opportunity: why not just move into a property and demand a ‘ransom’ of thousands of Euros from the owner before they will leave? Linda Pressly recently met a man who claimed to be a professional extortionist in Barcelona… And Patrick Muirhead takes a gruelling hike in the Seychelles, on the trail of its fabled Jellyfish Tree. It’s not just rare, but a botanical mystery: no-one yet understands how it manages to reproduce. In the teeth of climate change and rapid development for the islands' tourism industry, there are fears the species may not last much longer. If a proposed dam is built to supply water for the growing population of Mahé island, it could engulf one of the last remaining outcrops of the plant. Producer: Polly Hope
28/08/21·28m 56s

Afghanistan: Questions, Doubts and Fears

It’s been a week of searing and surreal images from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s lighting takeover of Kabul. The spectacle of an official Taliban news conference, televised live from the capital on Tuesday, was proof of how just how fast events have moved. The Taliban leadership may have promised forgiveness, reconciliation and protection of women’s rights. But the mood is fearful and there are still thousands of Afghans desperate to get out of the country by any means possible. Lyse Doucet has been hearing from many of them. As the West’s twenty-year mission to Afghanistan comes to an end, there are questions around the world about how the international intervention, and the new political structures set up after 2001, went so desperately wrong, so fast. Paul Adams has also been covering events and searching his own memories of time spent with foreign forces in the country for clues. The latest earthquake in Haiti has inflicted more losses on a nation that’s endured plenty of them. The shocks and aftershocks last Saturday caused at least 2,200 deaths, injured more than 12,000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. After the far more devastating quake back in 2010, more than 200,000 Haitians ended up living in squalid encampments in the capital, Port au Prince. This time around, the plan is to encourage survivors to stay put and rebuild, rather than run to already overburdened cities. James Clayton has been to some of the worst-affected areas in the southwest of the country. Imagine that one ordinary day you find out that - although you feel perfectly normal - you’re officially dead. That’s the experience of a surprising number of people across India. Thousands of men and women who are very much alive are being registered as dead, often by their own relatives who are angling to inherit their property. Covid restrictions prevented Chloe Hadjimatheou from going to India to investigate in person - but she’s been on the trail of these extraordinary stories. Finding out how easily this could happen to anyone brought home to her the extraordinary power which bureaucrats can have... The cultural history of Paris has a vivid streak of lowlife as well as high art. From Edith Piaf, the “little sparrow” belting out songs on street corners, to Gavroche, the plucky but doomed urchin of Les Miserables – there’s often a deep affection for those characters who must live by their wits on the streets. But the city’s wiles and its tricksters have caused many an unsuspecting visitor to come unstuck. Some come away with more vivid memories of time spent in police stations, embassies and travel agents, trying to untangle their misadventures, than of great meals or cultural highlights. Christine Finn’s been keeping an eye out and her wits about her ... Producer: Polly Hope
21/08/21·28m 38s

A Summer of Fires in Greece

Greece has been ravaged by almost six hundred wildfires in recent weeks. Thousands of firefighters have struggled to contain the raging flames which have destroyed hundreds of thousands of hectares of land; more than 60,000 people so far have had to flee their homes to safety. The Greek government has promised compensation payments for those affected and a massive drive to reforest the burnt areas “We saved lives, but we lost forests and property”, the Prime Minister admitted this week, calling it ‘an ecological catastrophe’. Bethany Bell reports from Athens, the island of Evia and the Peloponnese. Across Afghanistan, the country’s national army and security forces have been losing ground to the Taliban. The insurgents’ fighters have pushed forward and major provincial capitals including Herat, Kunduz and Zaranj have now been taken over. The Taliban also announced they were in control of the town of Ghazni, only 93 miles from Kabul. Before they moved into the centre of Kandahar, in the south, Shelly Kittleson had managed to get into the city. Since a rare outbreak of street protests in Cuba a month ago, its government has been arresting and jailing many of those who dared take part. Cubans are also still suffering the triple impact of a Covid surge, a serious economic crunch and frosty relations with the Biden administration in the USA. Power cuts and shortages only add to the discontent. Will Grant recently returned to the island after a while away, and sensed a definite change in the atmosphere. Amid Libya’s civil wars, rival governments and militia groups, there are also foreign players: backers, influencers and fighters. One particular group of Russian mercenaries, operating in the east, has been accused of war crimes against civilians. Allegations that the group has links to the Russian government have been strongly denied by President Vladimir Putin himself. Nader Ibrahim has been investigating connections between Russia and Libya for a long time and recently heard a fascinating story one night in Tripoli. Would you rent out a holiday hut which was built for a leading Nazi collaborator? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s something you can do in Norway. During the Second World War, the Germans installed a local sympathiser as the country’s leader: Vidkun Quisling. His surname itself has become a synonym for a lackey, traitor or bootlicker. The Scottish writer and novelist Ben McPherson has lived in Norway for many years, and he was surprised to learn Quisling’s summer cabin in the fjords was available for bookings … Producer: Polly Hope
14/08/21·29m 2s

The price of dissent in Belarus

The repressive tactics of the Belarusian state have been back in the news this week – and all over the map. The Olympic Games in Tokyo were shaken by sprinter Krystina Timonovskaya’s row with her coaches – she ended up seeking asylum in Poland. In Ukraine, the head of a group helping Belarusian emigres was found hanged in a park in Kyiv; his death is still being investigated. In Belarus itself, it’s nearly a year since the disputed election of August 2020 - which sparked mass protests over the result. Since then the government of Aleksandr Lukashenko has been going after people who were involved in the demonstrations with every means to hand. This week, one of the main ‘faces’ of the protests went on trial. Sarah Rainsford was in Minsk and has been speaking to family and friends of Maria Kolesnikova. In Nigeria, the mass abduction of children has become a tragically recurring kind of news story: eighty taken in one incident, over 120 in another – just in the past few months. But it’s not just crime which is destabilising Nigeria right now. There is the continuing insurgency of the jihadist group Boko Haram in the north, and a crop of separatist movements around the country. As Mayeni Jones reports, the insecurity is now touching even people who’d previously managed to shield themselves from the worst: It sounds like the stuff of a military dictatorship: troops will be out on the streets, enforcing a curfew, with people forbidden to leave their homes except on essential business. But this is Sydney, Australia - where yet another lockdown has been enforced, in in an effort to halt a surge in Covid cases. Different parts of this vast country have adopted their own rules – but one thing all parts of Australia share is a reverence for the traditional character of the “larrikin” – a rebellious, anti-establishment type who doesn’t take kindly to rules or regulations of any sort. So, Phil Mercer asks, how has a larrikin-loving nation reacted to such draconian measures? Costa Rica gets a lot of good press for its efforts to preserve nature. It’s got an extraordinary array of micro-climates and species, and it's a leading voice in international efforts to tackle climate change. So it's also a hotspot for nature tourists – from bird spotters to those who want to wander into a real live rainforest. But not everything about Costa Rica’s government is green – and not all its life forms are friendly. Michelle Jana Chan went for a night walk which shed light on all sorts of wonders… and horrors. Producer: Polly Hope
09/08/21·23m 23s

Tunisia's Unfinished Business

The political crisis which broke out in Tunisia last weekend is still simmering. Of all the countries in North Africa and the Middle East which toppled their dictators a decade ago, only Tunisia emerged as a full, multi-party democracy. Its free and fair elections, featuring candidates and groups of all ideological stripes, have been an exception in the wider region since then. But discontent has still mounted over the state of the economy, pandemic response and police tactics. Plenty of Tunisians don't necessarily see their country as a model for others - and President Kais Saied’s recent moves to freeze Parliament and remove the Prime Minister were welcomed by many. Rana Jawad explores why the situation looks rather different from Tunis. Next week it will be a year since the chemical explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital, Beirut. It was one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history – which killed more than 200 people and left more than 300,000 homeless. One of the worst-hit neighbourhoods was the close-knit district of Karantina, right next to the port. Survivors who’ve gone back to their rebuilt homes there hope that its special character can be preserved. But there are also some visionary, larger-scale proposals to redevelop the city – and as Tim Whewell found, the new plans might not leave room for everyone. This November, Barbados is planning to celebrate its 55 years of independence and become a republic – meaning the Queen will no longer be its head of state. It’s seen as a turning point in the country’s history - and a chance for Barbados to move even further on from its colonial past. Other historic legacies may be harder to unpick, though. Barbados was Britain’s first slave-holding society abroad; and the economic impact, and the debts, of the slavery era are still much discussed across the Caribbean. Zeinab Badawi recently visited a surviving 17th century mansion in the north of this island, which is now a museum. The UNHCR estimates that there are probably at least ten million individuals worldwide with no identity or nationality documents issued by any country. For them, the most basic challenges – registering a birth, getting childhood inoculation or exam certificates, applying for jobs or loans - can be insurmountable. But some countries are now deciding to make it easier to get legal status. In Kenya, hundreds of people from a Shona-speaking religious community with roots more than a thousand miles south, in Zimbabwe, were recently given a fresh chance. Vivienne Nunis saw several moments of pure joy at a ceremony to grant them citizenship. There’s never been a summer Olympic Games quite like Tokyo's... and Covid restrictions also apply to the journalists who are meant to cover the event. Their task is even more important when the crowds of spectators aren’t around to witness the sporting triumphs at first hand – but this time they definitely can’t just wander around looking for athletes to speak to. Or soak up the atmosphere inside the Olympic village or on the streets of Tokyo. Alex Capstick has covered more sporting contests than he’d care to remember – but this time it’s different… Producer: Polly Hope
09/08/21·28m 35s


The destructive power of water is often underestimated… until it’s too late. Large areas of Europe and China are still reeling from the damage left by some of their worst floods for decades. Across Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, there were over 200 deaths and billions of euros' worth of damage done. Now there are questions over whether this disaster will make voters more concerned about the effects of climate change. Although the Netherlands was least affected by the latest floods, water management is an existential threat for such a low-lying country. Anna Holligan has seen the worry – as well as the wreckage - on the ground there and in Germany. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro was recently briefly admitted to hospital after intestinal problems made him hiccup uncontrollably. He appears to have recovered and has been out and about, talking to the media and to the public. But his political worries are not over – in fact they’re only growing more acute. Many of his former allies are beginning to peel away. The country’s Senate is now investigating his government’s record of decision-making on Covid, from refusing to lock down to failure to procure medical supplies and vaccines. There are allegations swirling of corrupt vaccine-purchasing deals. Yet Mr Bolsonaro can still count on solid support from some of those who helped to elect him. Orla Guerin heard from them in Brasilia. The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of Nagorno Karabakh, is over - for now. The conflict there has flared up repeatedly over more than thirty years, with both countries insisting that the region is legally and historically theirs. In late 2020 Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive – and came out on top this time around, capturing towns and territory with significant help from its regional ally, Turkey. Colin Freeman recently returned to one town which he’d last seen at the centre of a fierce battle. South Africa is counting the costs of a mass outbreak of looting and destruction. In and around the cities of Johannesburg and Durban, businesses and homes were burned and ransacked. The police were fiercely criticised in some places for not doing enough to stop the violence. As well as criminal investigation, the country is now also doing plenty of soul-searching about the root causes of such widespread chaos. Gregory Mthembu-Salter and his family share the national concern, as his wife’s side of the family live where the looting was worst, in Kwa Zulu -Natal. The Mexican state of Sinaloa is deeply enmeshed in the drug trade. Profits from organised crime are an important driver of the local economy, especially in the state’s capital. In Culiacán , luxury cars can often be seen cruising the streets. Restaurants, bars, and designer fashion outlets all depend on the cash brought in from narcotics. And there's another expensive consumer fixation fuelled by narco culture – widespread plastic surgery. Linda Pressly talked to one of the city’s busy cosmetic surgeons. Producer: Polly Hope
24/07/21·28m 51s

The Meaning of Home

In the eastern Mediterranean there are far fewer refugees and migrants arriving by boat than in recent years - but the moral dilemmas of dealing with migration are still acute. In Greece, the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has tightened its asylum laws, built new walled camps and pushed back boats at sea. Over his reporting career, Fergal Keane has followed many global waves of migrants and refugees, from their home countries, along their journeys and to their various end points. A recent visit to the Greek islands got him thinking about the big picture again. Life has been good to King Mswati III of Eswatini. He has ruled over a small, peaceable country for decades as an absolute monarch. But his historic privileges are now in question. It seems some of his people have had enough; recently protests and looting broke out, and were met with a violent response. At least twenty seven people have been killed. Shingai Nyoka has met the King in person, and talked to some of his restive subjects. The situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia is still looking grim. Apart from the armies of Ethiopia and Eritrea and the armed forces of the TPLF, armed forces from other regions of Ethiopia have also become involved. Outside observers have warned of a possible impending famine. But it’s been very hard for journalists to find out exactly what’s happening inside Tigray itself, as the Ethiopian government has tightly controlled access. Fred Harter managed to get there earlier this year, and since then he’s been trying to keep up with events from afar. In France this week, President Macron sent signals of a distinctly tougher official approach to vaccination. From now on, if you can’t produce a pass showing you're Covid-safe, daily life could become significantly more complicated. Hugh Schofield wonders whether the French may secretly like a bit of strong-arming from their leader. Over the long months of lockdown many people have taken to walking with new fervour – particularly when it was the only legitimate pretext for leaving the house. In Transcarpathian Ukraine, Nick Thorpe recently joined a group of local enthusiasts who are assembling their own route for a very long hike indeed - a new footpath winding 250 miles through the mountains from the Slovak to the Romanian border. Producer: Polly Hope
17/07/21·28m 35s

Cubans' patience wears thin

The combined miseries of an economic crunch, a spike in Covid infections and simmering long-standing frustration drove hundreds of people to speak out in public last weekend. The Cuban government often brings out the crowds for mass demonstrations of revolutionary will – but it cracks down hard and fast on any shows of organised dissent. Will Grant has been sensing the pressure mount for months. The world was horrified by scenes from the pandemic in India – but there was less global attention paid to Bangladesh. Covid has utterly changed daily life and families’ fortunes there, too – especially since the country imposed its strictest lockdown yet at the start of this month. New infections and deaths are now at record levels and still rising – and there’s fear that people fleeing the restrictions in cities will be soon spread the virus in the countryside. Akbar Hossein has been considering the balance of risks. Clearing out a property after relatives have died can be a bittersweet experience, fusing nostalgia with grief. It’s harder still when the house is in a different country. Lesley Curwen has back been to the villa in Valencia where her mother and stepfather used to live – and noticed that many of the old certainties of their comfortable ex-pat circle in Spain are eroding. This summer, Russia has been staging dozens of official events to mark 800 years since the birth of a national hero: the warrior prince and later saint Alexander Nevsky, renowned for his military success and tactical genius. There’s a clear message being driven home as his relics journey across the country from church to church - as Francis Scarr saw in the city of Tver. We’ve all had to rethink what balance between isolation and social contact suits us best over the past year and a half. But perhaps not many people have reconfigured their professional and domestic set-up as Stephanie Theobald. She's been living in a cave - as part of an experimental commune in the California desert. Producer: Polly Hope
15/07/21·29m 1s

What NATO leaves behind in Afghanistan

This week sees the end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. These are the last days of a 20-year military presence of British and other forces – and the growing Taliban insurgency is moving quickly into the territory they’re leaving behind. The BBC's Security Correspondent Frank Gardner made numerous reporting trips to the country , four of them in a wheelchair; he reflects on some of the more poignant moments and what the future holds. The killing of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise has convulsed a nation all too accustomed to natural and political disaster. President Moïse had been ruling by decree after elections planned for 2019 didn’t happen - sparking mass protests and accusations that he illegally stayed on past his term. Amid the political chaos, in recent months many Haitian cities have also been facing a state of near-anarchy and escalating gang violence. David Adams met and interviewed the late President and weighs up the dangers and the appeal of power in the country. Cyprus is assessing the damage of its worst forest fires in decades. It’s yet another place on earth challenged by the consequences of rising temperatures. Many of its farmers have already had to adapt to hotter, drier weather by changing what they grow. Some hope there might be a revival of the island’s neglected carob industry. Until the 1970’s carob exports were a major component of the economy. But as Charlotte Ashton found out, the crop and its products may not be to everybody’s taste…. One of the En’s smallest member states took over the presidency of the European Council at the start of the month. Slovenia – a nation of just over two million people, formerly part of Yugoslavia - will perform the role until the end of the year. But the outspoken personality of its prime minister, Janez Janša, has been causing some concern. The BBC's Balkans Correspondent Guy De Launey lives in Ljubljana and explains some of the awkwardness. The landscape of Ireland is dotted with churches and shrines – but you don’t have to enter a building to connect with the spiritual. There are also around three thousand holy wells across the Republic where natural springs and streams have attracted pilgrims for centuries - both before and after the arrival of Christianity. In County Clare, there’s a particularly rich heritage of going to take the waters and make your prayers. Trish Flanagan has been to one such spot to explore the source of its power. Producer: Polly Hope
10/07/21·29m 1s

Face to face with Abiy Ahmed

Two weeks ago Ethiopia held a parliamentary election billed as the first truly ‘free and fair’ vote in its history – after nearly 20 years of continuous economic growth. It should have been a success story – but the election was only held in some parts of the country, as war was still raging in the Tigray region. There have been over eight months of armed conflict there as the central government moved to re-establish control; and there have been many reports of atrocities – and of hunger. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has repeatedly claimed government forces were close to victory and described the rebels as “like flour blown away by the wind”. But after a shock reversal as Tigrayan forces retook the regional capital, Mekelle. Catherine Byaruhanga wonders how much longer Mr Ahmed's confidence can hold. The South China Sea contains some of the world’s most hotly-disputed waters - with particular strife between the Philippines and China over the rights to some of its reefs and atolls. These are not just useful places to park military assets - but also particularly rich spots to fish. Given the diplomatic tension between Beijing and Manila over the area, Howard Johnson decided to board a fishing vessel and see more for himself. The Dalmatian pelican is something special in the bird world – the largest pelican on earth and one of the heaviest things on wings. It’s huge: just as big as the very largest swans, with a wingspan nearly as wide as an albatross's. The global range of the species is also vast – from the Mediterranean shores of Turkey, all the way across central Eurasia, as far east as China. But there are only about 5,000 breeding pairs left in the world, with around 450 of those in the delta of the River Danube. Abdujalil Abdurasulov waded out with a pair of Ukrainian conservationists trying to make the birds feel more at home. New York City – once the epicentre of the pandemic in the USA - is emerging from the nightmare of last spring. Hospital admissions are at a record low; restaurants and bars are serving again; the theatres on Broadway are due to reopen in September. But the city has lost a million jobs and many businesses – and it’s still losing New Yorkers. 187,000 households packed up and left in 2020. Lucy Ash has been considering the city’s longer-term future – and seeing how it hopes to lure people back. Money might still talk – or even shout – on Wall Street, but on a global level it’s not as much of a physical presence as it used to be. Cash was king once, but these days debit cards or smartphone apps are often more welcome. Yet in many countries around the world, the number of banknotes in circulation is still rising. Kevin Peachey was recently given rare access to a site where millions of these notes are printed and - for one brief moment - thought he might be in for a windfall... Producer: Polly Hope
08/07/21·28m 48s

Russia's Vaccine Paradoxes

Attitudes to Covid in Russia have been very different to those in western Europe. At its government played down the risks and scoffed at ‘pandemic panic’ in the West. That changed as the virus swept across the country and its healthcare system creaked under the pressure – especially in regions far from Moscow. Russia makes its own vaccine, Sputnik V, which it has shared widely with other countries and is now promoting heavily at home. But as Sarah Rainsford explains, the drive to get people jabbed must contend with public cynicism, scepticism and fear. Everything in Hong Kong these days points to tighter control from Beijing. The draconian national security law recently introduced in the territory is being applied to stifle protests, criminalise dissent and to get its previously lively press working within stricter limits. China’s government calls this “restoring stability”. Danny Vincent has seen the process unfold. . Western Canada is still reeling from a week of record temperatures on the Pacific coast. A freakish heatwave caused snowmelts, which in turn triggered flood warnings; tinder-dry forests burst into flame; and deaths spiked in cities simply not built for the heat. Neal Razzell lives on Vancouver Island and reports on life under the 'heat dome.' The lockdown is working - that seems to be the message from India. Daily case numbers and death rates are now far lower than just a few months ago. As very few people have yet been vaccinated, the dip in new cases is being put down to strict lockdown measures imposed in states across the country. But isolation is far from easy to sustain – even if you’re in a rural area. Writer and poet Tishani Doshi has spent the time in a secluded spot in Tamil Nadu where even grocery shopping has become a complex process. Governments everywhere have been warned about the global rise in obesity – and its likely costs to public health. But how far can they really change what individuals choose to eat? Chile introduced laws a few years ago to limit the advertising of junk food and to ensure healthy school meals. But three out of four adults - and more than half of all children - in the country are still overweight or obese. In Santiago, Jane Chambers has seen just how resistant some Chileans can be to well-meaning efforts to cut their calories… Producer: Polly Hope
03/07/21·28m 46s

Risk of Collapse

Although final numbers of the dead and missing have still not been tallied, the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Florida may prove to be the most lethal building failure in American history. Although 37 survivors were pulled from the wreckage in the hours soon after the twelve-storey condominium tower fell, there have been very few rescues since. Now there are questions over whether warning signs of damaged concrete in the twelve-storey structure were taken seriously enough when they were reported – and how safe residents might be in other high-rise structures in Miami and beyond. Will Grant spoke to the families of some residents still unaccounted for. The results from France’s regional elections seemed to be pointing to many political currents at once. The sitting government was drubbed – some called it an “implosion” for Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron’s party La Republique en Marche. Traditional parties on the left and at the centre-right did unexpectedly well. The turnout was dismal – a record low of around 35% . But there was particular disappointment for the hard right Rassemblement National (formerly the Front National) which saw none of its predicted gains materialise in Provence and the south. Fleur McDonald is in one town near Avignon where the party of Marine Le Pen had expected to do well. Eastern Australia is still struggling to contain a cyclical natural plague… of mice. Apart from the danger to human health, the surge also means serious financial losses for Australian farmers - some properties still have thousands of rodents rampaging across their grain stores every night. But the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has just rejected an application from the government of New South Wales to allow the use of one of the most effective poisons available. Steve Evans reports from Canberra. From day to day, citizens of Lebanon watch how their crumbling pound is doing against the dollar, and fret over the cost of basic essentials like food and petrol. Many of them also wonder whether their leaders will manage to form a new Cabinet and a functioning government. Lebanon is now one of the world’s diaspora nations, with more citizens living outside the country than within it. Many of them were driven to distrac tion – and then driven out – by the frustration of having to deal with a dysfunctional state. Mo Chreif [went home to investigate the causes of the huge blast which rocked Beirut ten months ago, and uncovered even more than he’d suspected. And following the historic result of the England-Germany game at Wembley, might both countries start reinventing their stereotypes of each other? Damien McGuinness has been thinking it over in Berlin. Producer: Polly Hope
01/07/21·28m 43s

America's Border Camps for Children

On the United States Mexico border, the dilemmas of how to treat migrant families arriving without papers are still acute. A BBC investigation has found hundreds of undocumented children were being detained in a camp in the Texan desert that's been ridden with disease, overcrowded, and plagued by a shortage of clean clothes and medical care. Hilary Andersson has been investigating the conditions inside Fort Bliss, El Paso. Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez took a momentous decision this week: to pardon nine Catalan pro-independence leaders who were jailed for their role in a bid to break away from Spain in 2017. The pardons are meant to soothe national tensions over the issue, but as Guy Hedgecoe reports from Madrid, the reactions to them reflected some deeply-held feelings across the country. As Afghanistan’s leaders met Joseph Biden at the White House on Friday the mood in Kabul was edgy. The Taliban are still extending their reach and hold on Afghan territory, gaining new ground each day. For the Afghan media it’s a particularly nervous time after a spate of targeted killings of journalists. During such dangerous days, a recent invitation to the corridors of power in Kabul got Karim Haidari thinking. In late December last year a black man was killed by police in Dublin. George Nkencho was followed home after he assaulted someone in a shop and pulled out a knife. He was shot near his front door. The Irish police are mostly unarmed, and this was the sixth fatal shooting by a member of the force in 22 years. But there are questions over whether race may have been a factor in the incident. Stephanie Hegarty met George Nkencho’s family as they were pushing for an independent inquiry into his death. Hasankeyf in southeastern Turkey is one of humanity's oldest urban settlements - inhabited for at least twelve thousand years. Or at least old Hasankeyf was - until it was flooded by the waters built up behind the controversial Ilisu Dam. Some original monuments – its bathhouse and remnants of a 14th-century mosque, as well as over 500 graves - were rescued, but many local people wonder whether too much of its special character has been lost forever. Michelle Jana Chan went to see what remains. Producer: Polly Hope
26/06/21·28m 42s

Denmark’s deportation dilemma

The government of Mette Frederiksen in Copenhagen is getting tough on migration - and has even started to rescind the residency status of some asylum-seekers where it deems the situation in their home countries 'safe' or at least improved. Adrienne Murray reflects on the signs of resistance she's seen on the streets, and the questions these moves raise about Danish policy. Amira Fathalla has spent the last decade monitoring every twist and turn of Libya's apparent disintegration - and reflects on whither this week's peace conference in Germany can really strengthen its current, fragile government of national unity. Is this a final moment of truth for the post-Gaddafi order and a chance to get free and fair elections organised before the end of the year? South America is currently the epicentre of the global Covid pandemic, with some of the world's highest death rates and infections with all variants spreading extremely quickly. Anxiety's particularly high in Argentina, where by some measures things are even worse than in Brazil at the moment. Natalio Cosoy reports from Buenos Aires on the consequences for sport, socialising and the country's self-image. Although NGOs often express concern about illegal logging, mining and poaching in Liberia, there are parts of the country which are still thickly forested and full of animals - some of them edible. Lucinda Rouse went into the woods with a couple of hunters who catch creatures for cash - or for their own tables. Sadly, one of the most sought-after meats is the sweet flesh of several endangered and threatened species of pangolin. And Hugh Schofield leaves us both shaken and stirred by his adventures through the pages of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels - which, as it turns out, are packed full of photographic detail about the authors' travels in France. Retracing the steps of the spy and his adversaries, he finds there is plenty which can still be recognised from the books Producer: Polly Hope
24/06/21·28m 49s

News Management in Belarus

The crackdown on dissent and reporting in Belarus goes on, and its authorities are keen to present their version of events to the world. At a recent press conference in Minsk, Jonah Fisher was presented with a dilemma when detained blogger and protester Roman Protasevich was brought out to speak to assembled journalists and diplomats. High in the Himalayas, Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries, with a weak and under-funded health system, particularly in rural areas. Rajini Vaidyanathan travelled there to report on the impact the pandemic is having on families across the country. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was one of the most infamous drug cartel heads in Mexico for years - though he's ended up jailed for life in a supermax prison in the USA. Tara McKelvey covered his trial in New York in 2019, where she saw one of his former mistresses give dramatic testimony - and met his wife in the courthouse cafeteria. Two years on, the two women's fortunes have very much reversed. Bukhara is one of the most renowned of the ancient cities along the ancient Silk Road linking China and the West - a storied place with millennia of artistic and intellectual history embedded in its mosques, madrasas and mausoleums. Sara Wheeler chose a more intimate kind of building to get a feel of its history. And Andrew Harding recalls moments on the road across Africa - from Libya to Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire to Zimbabwe - when it took a team to get the job done. While the joke goes that reporters get the credit and camera operators get the fun, what is the producer's lot? Some of them - like his colleague Becky Lipscombe, now leaving the BBC - really can make all the difference. Producer: Polly Hope
19/06/21·28m 52s

Lasting tensions in Jaffa

Israel's new coalition has been sworn in, drawing on the support of parties from across the political spectrum. It includes the first party in an Israeli government to be drawn from Israel's 21% Arab minority - Palestinian heritage, but Israeli by citizenship. One major challenge will be dealing with the tensions sharpened by the worst outbreak of intercommunal violence for a generation. Last month, Jewish and Arab mobs took to the streets of Israel’s mixed cities - attacking passers-by, looting shops and desecrating religious sites. As Yolande Knell reports from Jaffa, these incidents opened up divisions that will be hard to heal. Iranians are due to vote in their next President - but not all of them are likely to turn out to the polls. Public apathy seems to be a growing problem; but there have also been open calls for people to boycott the election. Parham Ghobadi works for the BBC’s Persian Service from London, and has been trying to gauge voters’ opinions about their limited options. The pandemic has hit Romania hard – the country has endured several rounds of lockdowns and re-openings and two significant spikes in deaths in December and April. They all exposed failings the struggling Romanian health system - particularly in rural areas. Stephen McGrath lives in Transylvania and recently lost a neighbour who was a friend not only to him, but to the whole village. On both sides of the Atlantic, there can be no refuge from present controversies in burying yourself in the past - as even matters of historical fact have become incendiary. As a history graduate from Cambridge with a PhD in American politics from Oxford, who's also spent decades reporting from around the world, Nick Bryant is well used to taking the long view. He looks back on his hectic years in New York City covering everything from the rise of Donald Trump to the goings-on at the United Nations HQ - and walks through the many histories of his adopted home. Producer: Polly Hope
17/06/21·28m 44s

North Korea cracks down on outside influences

Recent reports from Pyongyang have hinted at an intensified effort to root out foreign fashion, slang and media in North Korea. Its regime has repeatedly punished people who smuggle in DVDs of South Korean TV and film dramas, but the penalties are now even harsher. Laura Bicker reports from Seoul on the risks for North Koreans who try to break their isolation, whether by consuming forbidden culture or even escaping the country themselves. As Joe Biden meets other world leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall, there are still many Americans who aren't yet convinced he is the legitimate President of the United States. Gabriel Gatehouse was recently given unusual insight into this mindset. Press freedom in Pakistan is a touchy issue - and more so now after a string of incidents where reporters have been physically attacked. Secunder Kermani analyses where the 'red lines' lie for broadcast media, and the allegations that the country's security services have been directly pressuring journalists. Turkey's Sea of Marmara is enduring a mucilaginous ordeal - as a slimy, choking layer of so-called "sea snot" smothers its shores. It's a catastrophe for local fishing villages; President Erdogan has launched a clean-up this week. Neyran Elden of the BBC Turkish Service happens to be an experienced scuba diver - so she suited up to go beneath the surface and take a look at the sea bed. What she saw wasn't pretty. Citizens of EU countries in the UK are being strongly encouraged to sort out their residency status before the end of this month. For British citizens living abroad, the experience of getting their own paperwork has varied by country. Luke Tuddenham recently had a surprising brush with bureaucracy in Lower Saxony in Germany. Producer: Polly Hope
12/06/21·28m 45s

Thailand's youth protest movement stalls

Not long ago, a wave of unprecedented public protests in Thailand over royal privileges and youth concerns made some Thais feel they were on the brink of change. Now the picture is very different: many of the movement's leading figures are in jail or awaiting trial and their dreams seem to have been deferred. Jonathan Head considers what the youth protest movement has achieved, and what sort of a precedent its fate sets for others in Southeast Asia - most notably for Myanmar. Colombia is currently living through its own wave of street protests - over everything from tax policy to austerity, job opportunities to racism. Demonstrators and police have faced off in cities across the country, sometimes with lethal results. Daniel Pardo reports from Cali, one of the focal points of the the nationwide 'resistance' - and hears worries that the country's sliding back into division. In the Czech Republic, moves to abolish the rules dictating the correct form for women's surnames are gaining ground. From Praque, Rob Cameron explains the grammatical and gender issues at stake - and the social change reflected in the proposed reform. Ferrara, in Italy's Emilia Romagna region, is a famously prosperous and beautiful city with a rich cultural heritage - but whatever its visual splendour, its greatest arts of all might be the culinary ones. Julia Buckley has been getting a taste of its edible history via recipes from a cookbook first put together in the 1540s, by the man who served as master of ceremonies at the palatial court of the Este family. And in Georgia, Mark Stratton delves into the extraordinary qvevri - the giant earthenware jars traditionally used to store and age some of the the country's renowned wines. These immense, amphora-like clay pots encapsulate Georgia's ancient identity and are key to the special flavour of many of its most treasured reds, whites - and ambers - as well as the extremely potent liquor known as chacha. Producer: Polly Hope
10/06/21·28m 46s

A new coalition in Israel's Knesset

Benjamin Netanyahu has outsmarted many attempts to drive him from power - but a new alliance is manoeuvring to unseat him. Tom Bateman reports from Jerusalem on the unusual array of parties now teaming up in coalition - ranging from right-wing Jewish nationalists to a religious party for Muslim Israelis of Palestinian heritage. Sarah Rainsford has reported on several waves of repression in Belarus for the BBC. But her most recent visit to Minsk revealed a pall of fear settling over the country's news media, dissidents and protesters. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited Costa Rica to talk migration and development aid with the foreign ministers of Central America. What changes in policy is the Biden administration considering - and what does it have to offer the region to deter people from trying to make it to the Mexico/US border? Will Grant was in San Jose to see what was on the table. Japan is a nation famous for its team spirit, its hospitality, and its love of a big event. But as Rupert Wingfield Hayes comments from Tokyo, there's little public enthusiasm for the Olympic Games - as the opening ceremony in July draws closer, even as new doubts arise over pandemic safety and travel restrictions. For more than twenty years the late Milan Bandic served as mayor of Croatia's capital, Zagreb - and some citizens say he treated it as a personal fiefdom. He had many colourful run-ins with the law, but there was also a far wider range of accusations that corruption and cronyism were spoiling the city's reputation and driving young Croatians abroad. Guy De Launey explains why nearly two-thirds of voters just chose a young, Green candidate to clean up their surroundings.
05/06/21·28m 36s

Somaliland's can-do spirit

Somaliland claims to be an independent republic, though it is not internationally recognised and Somalia still claims the territory. It issues passports, has its own army, flag and president - and this week it held long-delayed elections. Mary Harper, a regular visitor, explains what the polls meant to Somaliland's people - especially some of its most marginalised. This weekend, Peruvian voters have to choose between two candidates for the Presidency - after a fragmented and confusing first round, the contest is now a neck-and-neck race between Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori. In Lima, Dan Collyns senses the mood polarising - and hears how heated the rhetoric has become. Iraq's Jewish community was once hundreds of thousands strong - but it's been whittled away drastically since the 1940s by persecution, emigration and ageing. Lizzie Porter has witnessed how Jewish sites across the country have changed, and how many are crumbling into disuse and neglect. But there are also people working to preserve this unique heritage. The pandemic meant many Singaporeans haven't been able to travel far for months, so there's been a surge of interest in the city-states last remaining wild spaces - the green areas where birds and tropical plants still flourish. Sharanjit Leyl is a keen birdwatcher herself, and says her fellow twitchers are worried over the future of their forests. And in southwestern France, Chris Bockman recently met a village mayor with unusual powers. Nothing to do with local government guidelines; rather, he's believed by many to be capable of healing illnesses, lifting curses - and even exorcism. Producer: Polly Hope
03/06/21·28m 56s

Zuma on Trial

Former President Jacob Zuma's long-delayed fraud trial saw a surge in interest this week as the accused arrived to plead not guilty to all charges. Andrew Harding has been following this intricate case for years and was in court in Pietermaritzburg. The worst of the pandemic may have passed in India's megacities, but the virus is still spreading fast in rural areas - and leaving lasting grief and trauma across the country. Rajini Vaidyanathan reflects from Delhi on the sadness now permeating all levels of society. Chinese consumers have been knocking back Australian wine with gusto in recent years, even as political relations between Beijing and Canberra have grown ever more strained. But the export boom might not last. Shaimaa Khalil reports from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, where they're bracing for the impact of new Chinese tariffs on imports. In Canada, a Catholic archdiocese has been found liable for damages to be awarded to several survivors of physical and sexual abuse in a Church-run orphanage. Greg Mercer talked to one man who grew up in the Mount Cashel home. The city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo is surrounded by dangers - armed rebel groups, a lake with dangerous levels of dissolved CO2 and methane - and now an erupting volcano. Olivia Acland was one of the tens of thousands who had to join a mass evacuation as Nyiragongo rumbled. Producer: Polly Hope
29/05/21·28m 51s

Caught in the crossfire along the Thailand/Myanmar border

: Laura Bicker reports from a remote corner of Thailand’s border with Myanmar, where villagers’ lives are being disrupted as the Burmese military pursues insurgent groups. Since the generals' takeover in February, hundreds of people have died in Myanmar's cities after mass protests. In rural areas, several rebel militias – most formed by ethnic minorities – which have been resisting the military for decades are renewing their fight. Last weekend the diversion of a Ryanair flight to Minsk in Belarus – though it was meant to be going to Lithuania – caused generalised outrage. After an alleged bomb threat, the plane had to land straight away. But it seems the real target on board was a young critic of the Belarusian government, James Landale analyses the shock felt across Europe as other countries judge how to respond. After Idriss Deby, Chad's longtime head of state, was reportedly killed in battle in April, many hoped his death might offer a chance to hold free and fair elections. Instead Mr Déby’s son, a general, now rules the country. Activists fear that their window for change might soon slam shut. In N'Djamena, Mayeni Jones found those in power don’t always share the priorities of ordinary Chadians. In recent days, several thousand migrants crossed from Morocco into the Spanish city of Ceuta. It's happened before but the numbers this time were unprecedented. Guy Hedgecoe reflects on the backdrop to this incident and complex history binding Spain and Morocco. As Chileans’ household budgets have grown tighter, they’ve also grown more worried about their country’s once-emblematic pension system. Now a new breed of politician is seizing the limelight by suggesting voters should just go ahead and raid the kitty, says Jane Chambers in Santiago. Producer: Polly Hope
27/05/21·28m 49s

The bravery and anger of Afghanistan's schoolgirls

The attack on a Kabul school on May 8th heightened fears about what will happen when US and NATO troops fully withdraw from the country. More than 80 people were killed – most of them schoolgirls. It was in an area west of the city, home to many from the minority Hazara community, often targeted for attack. Lyse Doucet talked to some of the survivors and heard of their anger at the failure to protect them. In East Jerusalem, a battle over property has channelled long-held tensions and unresolved grievances. In the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, protestors have been trying to stop Israel evicting eight Palestinian families. Israel’s Supreme Court has delayed a hearing on the evictions, but the case, along with complaints of heavy-handed policing of the Al Aqsa compound during Ramadan, ignited the recent round of violence in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. Paul Adams visited the streets at the heart of the dispute. Indonesia's capital Jakarta is one of the world’s most polluted cities. Now some of its residents have launched a court case trying to push the government to clean up its atmosphere. Rebecca Henschke, who lived in the city for over a decade, reports on their fight to breathe more easily. For now, Portugal is one of the places British tourists can go without quarantining and the hospitality industry in the Algarve is eager to welcome them back. Nick Beake spoke to local businesspeople hoping to get back in gear. Emma Jane Kirby has reported for the BBC from across Europe and beyond – in settings ranging from the glitz of the Cote d’Azur to the squalor of Sangatte. She's covered big stories and described plenty of dramatic scenes, from shipwrecks to furious street protests. But she’s now working in a different world … the fictional universe of the Archers. Producer: Polly Hope
22/05/21·28m 55s

A change of pace in the White House

President Biden’s administration has plenty to do – and has gone about doing it at a less hectic pace than its predecessor. The Democrats say their plans are all about ‘rebuilding America’ with proposals for huge infrastructure projects as well as social care reform. Senior Republicans have called it “the most socialist agenda” Congress has ever voted on. Anthony Zurcher has been feeling a different mood in DC. The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh last year cost Armenia dear, in territory and lives. A truce deal, backed by Russia, was meant to get all prisoners of war back home. But Armenia says around 200 of its citizens are still in captivity. Rayhan Demytrie reports. Nick Thorpe, the BBC’s correspondent in Budapest, is no stranger to the River Danube. He’s travelled its length twice, has written a book and made a series of documentary films on it. But this week, he met his match - a hardy couple of adventurers who've been paddling upstream for weeks, only leaving the water to sleep. The buzz over the Eurovision Song Contest is a little quieter this year in Rotterdam – though we can still expect blaring power ballads. Singing indoors is a high-risk activity these days. Covid restrictions don't make the easiest conditions for a festival of unity. But Steve Rosenberg’s enthusiasm is undampened. The work of Claude Monet is deeply rooted in nature. For him, plants and landscapes weren’t simply pretty things to be observed, but the core of his inspiration. From 1883, at his home in Giverny in Normandy, he cultivated specific views to contemplate. His gardens are usually a major visitor attraction but languished unseen through much of 2020. As they got ready for a limited reopening, Christine Finn had an early look. Producer: Polly Hope
20/05/21·28m 45s

A Spiral of Violence

As missiles have rained down on Gaza and on Israel, violence at street level has also been at its worst for years. There have been clashes between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel within Israel’s own borders. There have been confrontations between security forces and Palestinians in the West Bank. On a far greater scale, Gaza has been under heavy rocket fire as the Israeli Defence Forces struck back against what they identify as control centres for Hamas. Jeremy Bowen weighs up the damage. In Brazil, Congress is conducting an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic. But the president still has keen backers, who admire his energy and instinct for confrontation. Mark Lowen is just back from Brazil and reflects on Jair Bolsonaro's playbook - and its echoes of another leader whose tactics he knows well. The number of boats carrying migrants keen to reach the shores of Europe is on the rise again. Enforcement is stricter across the Mediterranean so other routes are getting busier. But the journey via the Atlantic and Spain’s Canary Islands can be lethal. Bruno Boelpaep reports on a tragedy at sea and a moving reunion. Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is home to the most critically endangered sea mammal on earth: a small porpoise called the vaquita . There are fewer than a dozen left and they risk getting tangled in the nets cast out for fish. Those fish, in turn, are also under threat – even though they’re legally protected. Linda Pressly saw the pressures at work in the town of San Felipe. And a historic collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture is back on public view for the first time in decades. The new display of the Torlonia marbles delighted David Willey, who has lived in Rome for nearly fifty years. He remembers them looking rather different… Producer: Polly Hope
15/05/21·28m 57s

India’s pandemic politics

The pandemic’s impact on politics is being picked over in India after a disappointment for the BJP in West Bengal's state election. Mark Tully was born in India in 1935 and reported from across the subcontinent for the BBC for many years - working as the chief of its Delhi bureau for some of that time. He still lives in the city and has recently been shielding at home – and sent us this long view of how Narendra Modi’s government has dealt with this emergency. After a sluggish start – and some concerns about public reluctance - Germany’s vaccination campaign is gathering pace. The government has agreed to lift some restrictions for vaccinated people. But the new social divide between the vaxxed and the un-vaxxed is sparking some awkward new emotions — and some new German words to describe them. Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin. During the last twenty years, a new generation of Afghan girls have grown up aspiring to work outside the home – some even daring to start up their own businesses. But the past year has been tough for them, and there are fears of what increased Taliban influence may mean for their enterprises. Charlie Faulkner met one young woman wondering how long she can stay afloat. The Galapagos Islands off Ecuador are a showcase of marine life in all its variety - but the country's fishing fleets are fuming over plans to extend the limits of environmental protection zones. Dan Collyns examines the delicate balance between saving the fishing industry and protecting the planet. And in the week that France commemorated one of its greatest sons – Napoleon Bonaparte, who died 200 years ago - Julia Buckley gleans some personal insights into the man behind the myth in an unexpectedly intimate museum of his belongings in the Dordogne.
08/05/21·29m 5s

Iran’s internal rivalries

A leaked recording has startled observers of Iran’s government and military. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was caught out when an interview meant for the archive of a state-sponsored think-tank found its way to the media. Jeremy Bowen explains what it revealed about how the country really works. President Biden has issued an official statement that the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks from 1915 onwards were a “genocide” - a term that's always enraged Turkish nationalists. Biden’s statement was welcomed in Armenia and by the Armenian diaspora, but roundly rejected by Turkey’s President Erdogan. Orla Guerin reports on the impact of the White House’s verdict on history. It has been three weeks since the volcano in St Vincent, La Soufriere, erupted. Ash rained down on the northern part of the island; more than a tenth of its people had to to shelter elsewhere and most crops have been ruined. Will Grant reached the red zone and saw how much needs to be rebuilt. Chile has had one of the world’s most successful vaccine rollouts, with over 40% cent of its people having had at least one jab. But infection rates haven’t fallen as rapidly as was hoped. Some experts say the country’s experience is proof vaccination alone can’t keep whole populations free of Covid. Jane Chambers detects some disillusion in Santiago. The self-declared Islamic State attracted around 40,000 foreign fighters to its territory, and many brought wives and children with them. Josh Baker spent years following the story of one American woman who travelled to Syria with her husband, taking her young son, Matthew, too. The boy survived more than two and a half years there and is now back in the US. Tracking him down took Josh to several unexpected places along the way.
01/05/21·28m 48s

The US and China edge closer on climate

Relations between the US and China are going through a rough patch. On trade, diplomacy and military matters the superpowers are at odds; they still have entirely different visions of the world and its future. Yet the world’s two biggest carbon emitters have pledged to cooperate more closely on cutting their emissions. Celia Hatton explores how the promises were hammered out and what it means for the rest of the planet.; Early in 2021 many hoped India might escape the worst of the pandemic, with a vaccine roll-out under way and infection rates dropping. But Covid cases and deaths have soared. The surge in patient numbers, and severe shortages of oxygen, have overwhelmed the health system in some places. In Delhi, Rajini Vaidyanathan sensed a marked shift in mood.; Brazil is also hard hit. Its President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the virus, and clashed repeatedly with regional governors who wanted to impose stricter lockdowns and other measures. In the northeastern town of Lencois, Richard Lapper gauges the political fallout. Thousands of people gathered last week calling for the release of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. But Russia’s laws on public protest have tightened recently, and attending unauthorised rallies these days can mean a beating, a sacking or a prison sentence. Sarah Rainsford talked to some who still feel it’s worth speaking out. Idriss Deby, leader of Chad for more than 30 years, embodied the African "military strongman" until his death, apparently in the thick of fighting with rebels. The son of a herdsman, he faced down many uprisings and regional crises and was often considered an indispensable ally by the West in stopping jihadist groups in the Sahel. Andrew Harding considers the dilemmas he's left behind. Producer: Polly Hope
24/04/21·28m 59s

A Taliban show of force in Afghanistan

The White House has announced a deadline for US troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and the government in Kabul looks isolated. The Taliban are in control of large parts of the country, running a parallel administration. Secunder Kermani visited a Taliban-controlled zone in Balkh province to hear how Talib commanders and fighters have reacted to the American plan. Russia seems to be concentrating military resources along its border with Ukraine, but why? And how can or should Ukraine prepare to respond? Jonah Fisher has been to the trenches and artillery-damaged villages of eastern Ukraine and sensed a nervy game of 'wait and see'. The city of Minneapolis has been at the centre of continuing debate over race, crime and policing in the United States. Just as the world's media moved in to cover the trial of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd in 2020, news came on Sunday of the death of Daunte Wright, aged 20, shot and killed by a police officer. Larry Madowo reflects on how much anger and sadness there is to go around. The South China Sea is dotted with reefs, atolls and islets coveted by rival neighbours, including Vietnam, Brunei, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Tensions have risen recently over an outcrop called Whitsun Reef., The Philippines claim sovereignty there - but it's currently bristling with ships from mainland China. Howard Johnson reports on the latest chapter of a long dispute. And Joe Myerscough reveals what it's like to travel in the shadow of Greta Thunberg. While filming with one of the world's youngest and best-known climate activists, he saw her dealing with the demands of a global public image as well as fighting global climate change. Producer: Polly Hope
17/04/21·29m 3s

Jordan’s palace intrigues

Jordan is often portrayed as a stable, moderate country whose royal family have guided it wisely through turbulent times in a dangerous neighbourhood. But that royal family has rifts of its own and they burst into full view in recent weeks, as a public feud broke out between King Abdullah and his half-brother, the former Crown Prince Hamza. The BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, has his own memories of the country’s intimate power struggles – past and present. In Rwanda, a man once seen around the world as a hero is now standing trial accused of terrorism. Paul Rusesabagina, a former hotel manager, sheltered hundreds of people from the killers during the 1994 genocide. But he became a critic in exile of the government of Rwanda's President, Paul Kagame - and apparently a target for Rwandan intelligence. Michaela Wrong has spent years investigating the complex background to the story. As the military crackdown on strikers and demonstrators goes on in Myanmar, journalists are also being targeted as they try and cover the situation. Ben Dunant has just returned to the UK after years spent reporting in Myanmar and reflects on the prospects for the colleagues he left behind. As you might expect, the residents of Paris have been particularly pained by the closure of their restaurants and cafes. But for those in the know, there were still some illicit ways to eat out: networks of private dining rooms and functions. Recently some of those secret arrangements were revealed to the French public – and many who hadn’t been invited were outraged. Joanna Robertson reports. *NOTE: Podcast audio has been updated to correct reference to a rebel group
10/04/21·29m 9s

Merkel’s Balancing Act

The German Chancellor is widely respected as good at crisis management, but public confidence in her government's pandemic policies is ebbing away. How will her party, the CDU, campaign during this autumn's general election - is it possible the next Chancellor could be a Green? Jenny Hill reports from Berlin on power struggles and shifting opinions. While the Christian Democrats confront their future, the German state is still carrying on talks with the government of Namibia about its colonial past. Land rights, official apologies and reparations have all been discussed . So has the treatment of the Herero and Nama peoples in the early 1900s, which some historians now consider "the first genocide of the 20th century". Tim Whewell met black and white Namibians still viewing their heritage though very different lenses. In Armenia the public mood is mutinous, in the aftermath of the most recent round of conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. A ceasefire agreement is holding, but there's grief and anger on the streets of Yerevan. Mark Stratton has friends in the disputed territory and hoped to revisit them, to see how they had survived the fighting. Millions of people in Iranian and Kurdish communities around the world recently celebrated Nowruz - the Persian New Year, a joyful festival full of the symbolism of rebirth. But it's enjoyed particularly passionately in the ancient town of Akre in the Zagros mountains in northern Iraq. Leila Molana Allen climbed its stone ramparts and steep hillsides to witness the spectacle. In eastern Romania, there's a village like no other: Tichilesti, home to Europe's last leprosarium - a facility where people with Hansen’s disease, better known as leprosy, were once sent for life. Nick Thorpe shares some of the stories he heard there.
03/04/21·28m 37s

The EU and The Vaccine

The EU’s vaccination programme has had several setbacks with repeated delays and safety concerns. The commission has blamed pharmaceutical companies for failing to deliver promised jabs, and has tightened export controls. Kevin Connolly reflects on the twists and turns of the vaccine saga – and how history may offer some insight into what happens next. Israel has held its fourth election in two years - yielding yet another inconclusive result. Neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor his challengers secured a governing majority. Some analysts say the stalemate is further alienating Israelis from the political system. Joel Greenberg says the outcome could turn on an unlikely kingmaker. The recent shooting of six Asian Americans in Georgia has highlighted entrenched prejudice in the US. In the last year there has been a spike in reports of attacks and other abuse directed against people of Asian descent. Annie Phrommayon is in San Francisco and reflects on how racist attitudes have become normalised. Germany has gone to great lengths in recent decades to acknowledge its Nazi legacy. But the subject is still highly sensitive. In Berlin, Alexa Dvorson had an improbable conversation born out of a reader's courage to reach out to a stranger--and find out more about her grandfather's past as a Nazi Youth leader. We hear the story of Shirley - from her time as an editor on the Japan Times newspaper to her return to Canada, where, due to her insurance, she had treatment for her deteriorating health. In a cruel twist, the pandemic restrictions separated her from her life partner in the US, and prevented them from being reunited before she died. Hugh Levinson tells the story of what the experience meant for the couple. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
27/03/21·28m 32s

Poland’s LGBT Crackdown

Rules have been tightening for same sex couples in Poland in recent years. Civil unions are not legally recognized and same sex couples are barred from adopting children, but a loophole currently allows applicants to adopt as single parents. Now the government wants to close that loophole. Adam Easton has spoken to the people affected, some of whom are now considering leaving. Lebanon's second city, Tripoli, gained notoriety for its flamboyant anti-government protests in 2019 over the severe economic decline seen across the country. Despite the extreme poverty, and the impact of the pandemic, some of the city's residents are keen to be part of an economic revival, finds Lemma Shehadi. In Taiwan, we hear the stories of couples who were married under the traditional simpua system. The practice, where a family would adopt a pre-adolescent girl as a future bride for their son, eventually phased out in the sixties and seventies, largely due to the economic boom. Sally Howard spoke to some of the men and women who married according to the tradition, with mixed results. On the Greek island of Corfu there's a small haven set on a hill above the main town - a cemetery set in a well-tended garden, where bougainvilleas, orchids and Cyprus trees line the path ... frequented by a few wild tortoises. The long-serving caretaker recently died and is now buried there. But Julia Langdon visited the garden when he was still alive - he took her for a tour. In Canada, the authorities have been encouraging people to look after their physical and mental health during the pandemic by getting outside. In Ottawa, this involves winter hikes and cross country skiing - and river surfing, as Sian Griffiths discovered. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
25/03/21·28m 28s

Hong Kong’s Exodus

Hong Kong is seeing a wave of departures amid concerns about the erosion of democratic freedoms. China's national security law, imposed in July last year, has been used to clamp down on dissent prompting many to considering leaving. The UK's visa scheme will allow many Hong Kong residents to start a new life in Britain. Danny Vincent spoke to some of the people preparing to leave the territory. One year ago, New York City was the one of the epicentres of the coronavirus outbreak. Now a massive vaccination effort is underway. Restaurants are allowed to open at half capacity and, helped by the relief package, the city is gradually springing back to life. But some people are wary of the vaccine, says Laura Trevelyan. In Australia allegations of sexual assault in the corridors of power in Canberra are dominating headlines. Tens of thousands of people have protested in the major cities. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has so far refused to hold an independent inquiry, but the allegations have triggered a public reaction that is gathering pace, says Shaimaa Khalil. Each year, Afghanistan hosts an annual ski challenge, in the mountains of Bamiyan province. Organisers of this event are hoping the region can attract more tourists, despite the on-going threat of violence. They hope for a more peaceful future - and this event has provided much needed respite. Charlie Faulkner went to watch. The Netherlands has long navigated the threat posed by rising water levels. In 1953, a catastrophic flood claimed the lives of more than 1000 people. In response, the Dutch created an advanced network of flood defences. These are now being updated thanks to a new plan to climate-proof the country. Jane Labous reports. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
20/03/21·28m 39s

Rebuilding Raqqa

More than 380 000 people have been killed and over half the population has been uprooted from their homes in Syria's ten-year civil conflict. Residents of the city of Raqqa experienced terror and brutality under the control of so-called Islamic State. Meanwhile airstrikes and shelling destroyed civilian infrastructure and homes. Now the city is trying to rebuild. Leila Molana-Allen met with one of the original protesters , along with those who are working to restore the city. The Venezuelan diaspora stretches from Texas to Brussels to Nairobi, and those within it are now trying to help people back home battling the pandemic and a collapsing economy. Vladimir Hernandez lives in Nairobi, and describes how Venezuelan friends and relatives are issuing pleas for help via messaging apps. The murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall in 2017 on board a Danish submarine shocked the world. It was recently in the spotlight again when a television dramatization of the case, The Investigation, was aired on the BBC and other networks. Maddy Savage reflects on her experience of covering the trial of Kim Wall’s killer. Farming is the backbone of the Indian economy – and the government argues that it can make life better for farmers via a series of free-market reforms. But the plans set off a furious backlash. Minreet Kaur, who lives in the UK, has been hearing why the protests have been so widespread - and so heated. Switzerland’s system of direct democracy is famous for putting decision making firmly in the hands of voters. Gather 100,000 signatures, and you are guaranteed a nationwide vote on an issue. This led to the recent vote to ban face coverings – including the burqa and the niqab. Imogen Foulkes reports. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
18/03/21·28m 51s

The Pope and the Ayatollah

Pope Francis' recent visit to Iraq was the first by a pontiff to the country. It was aimed at boosting the moral of the persecuted Christian minority and promoting inter-religious dialogue. Mark Lowen travelled with the papal delegation and witnessed the moment the Pope met the most powerful Shia cleric in Iraq - the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. In Mozambique the government is struggling to deal with armed groups whose motives are often unclear. So as reports started coming in, in recent years, of an Islamist insurgency in the far north –– it wasn’t easy to know who the players were. Since 2017 there have been repeated accounts of attacks – and military reprisals – in Cabo Delgado province. Andrew Harding visited the region. Singapore has taken pride in its track and trace technology throughout the pandemic. Now, it is in the midst of a mass vaccination drive and has chosen to prioritise workers in the aviation and maritime industries. Karishma Vaswani went to Singapore’s main airport which has dedicated a whole terminal to the vaccine roll-out. In Liberia, the business of farming sea cucumbers is proving profitable for some. The leathery marine animals are mainly sold to China where they are seen as an edible delicacy. But some species are becoming endangered. Lucinda Rouse met one man who runs a farming business - and watched a haul of sea cucumbers being brought in. The Pacific island of Kiribati is said to be only one of a dozen nations which hasn't reported any Covid cases. Authorities there want to keep it that way. Last year many thousands of sailors from Kiribati were unable to return home before borders were sealed off. Nick Beake met a group who were stranded in Germany. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
13/03/21·28m 51s

Remembering Fukushima

Ten years ago a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off the north east coast of Honshu, triggering a devastating tsunami which left 20,000 dead and more than half a million without homes. It also triggered a meltdown at the nuclear plant in Fukushima. There were fears the contamination would spread just as it did with Chernobyl. Rupert Wingfield Hayes revisited the nuclear zone. The mass kidnappings of children in Nigeria have made repeated headlines recently. In the past three months alone there have been four such abductions. This dramatic escalation has led many to conclude that kidnapping children has become a business in Nigeria. Mayeni Jones looks at whether the media is part of the problem. A fresh wave of sex scandals in France is forcing the country to confront widespread sexual abuse and, in particular, incest. There is now a push to reform laws surrounding rape and child abuse and, for the first time in France, to set a legal age of consent. Joanna Robertson reflects on the culture that has tolerated a long-standing problem. We’re in Pakistan where one young man has used the time spent in lockdown there to perfect his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. He has now taken to the streets in his coat tails and bowler hat – to the alarm and entertainment of those on the streets of Peshawar. Rani Singh watched him. Malta has a rich history spanning thousands of years and influenced by a range of cultures. One of the official languages on the island, Malti, has its roots in Arabic, and, over time fused with the Sicilian dialect of Italian. Juliet Rix reports how the language reflects the history of the island, from the early Arab occupiers to European monarchs. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
11/03/21·28m 39s

Brazil’s Long Battle Against Covid

Brazil is facing the deadliest point of the pandemic so far – this week posting record death tolls as scientists warn the variant found in the country appears to be more contagious. For Katy Watson, who has been reporting on Brazil's outbreak throughout, it’s a story that’s become personal too. Meanwhile in Europe, some countries are cautiously re-opening. We're Germany, where hairdressers have opened again – and garden centres and bookshops will follow suit from next week, but plans for a wider lifting of restrictions will hinge on keeping rates low. With just six per cent of the country inoculated, scientists are warning a new wave is already underway. Jenny Hill visited a hospital in Dortmund. The small community of Africville in Canada was established by Black settlers more than two centuries ago, many of whom had fled a life of slavery in the US. The vibrant community lived there for generations, until their forcible relocation in the 1960s when authorities demolished the settlement for industrial use. Now, the local mayor wants to give the land back, finds Greg Mercer. In Somalia, there is political impasse due to delayed elections in February. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's four year term has officially come to an end but talks on the electoral rules have stalled. Nick Redmayne visited Mogadishu and found the cosmopolitan parts of the city belied a backdrop of uncertainty. And we hear about a life lived under Soviet rule – the recent death of his father-in-law led Martin Vennard to reflect on a remarkable life. Vladimir Davidovich was a scientist and musician whose story spans much of the twentieth century. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
06/03/21·28m 36s

Crises in the Caucasus

In the South Caucasus, Georgia and Armenia are facing challenging times as political crises in each country have intensified in the past week. In Georgia, the arrest of the opposition leader brought thousands onto the streets in protest. And in neighbouring Armenia, the country’s embattled prime minister accused the army’s generals of an attempting a military coup. Rayhan Demytrie explains the challenges of reporting on both events at the same time. In Peru, a scandal over vaccine distribution has shocked the nation. A local newspaper published a list of the names of hundreds of people who had secretly been inoculated well ahead of the vaccination roll-out: including the former President and several government ministers. Dan Collyns reports on "Vacunagate." In the United States, we follow the story of one woman who chose to forego her long-term job as a teacher in favour of a less predictable, nomadic way of life in her campervan. She is part of a growing community of so-called “van-lifers” in North America who have been depicted in the Golden Globe winning film, Nomadland. Sally Howard follows her story. Iceland has the least Covid restrictions in Europe on business and daily life. Prone to living alongside active volcanoes, citizens of this island in the north Atlantic are used to being kept safe with early warning systems and evacuation procedures. Tira Shubart reports on how Iceland is now getting ready to welcome summer visitors –with certain conditions. And we’re in Romania – home to a vast array of birdlife, brown bears, wolves, wildcats, and lynx. Stephen McGrath meets an ornithologist, and reflects on the wonders of the natural world and the destruction it all faces at the hands of humans. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
04/03/21·29m 16s

The New York Moment

New York was hit hard in the pandemic, and more than 29 000 died since the first outbreak there. Residents and workers saw a changed landscape – gone were the tourist throngs, and bustling streets – social distancing signs thinned out the crowds and demarcated the streets. Now the city is re-opening and the soul-searching has begun. But Nick Bryant takes solace that the city will still find its way back to recovery. This week, nurses across Kenya went back to work after a three month strike. Doctors who had also walked off the job in December returned last month. There is widespread relief because many feared industrial action in the middle of a pandemic could cost even more lives…So far Kenya is relatively unscathed by Covid-19. But, as Lucy Ash reports, the death of one young doctor from the virus has stirred outrage and exposed some of the failings in the country’s health system. In Belarus, a journalist is on trial for investigating the death of a protester in another example of the crackdown on independent media in the country. Since mass protests started last August following a general election widely deemed unfair, more than 400 journalists have been detained. Abdujalil Abdurasulov visited the capital Minsk last August and witnessed how brutally the authorities dealt with anyone who dared to challenge the regime. Since the 16th century, French streets have regularly been named in honour of notable people. But only a tiny proportion of them bear the names of women. In 2011 - the authorities in Paris decided to tackle the problem by choosing extraordinary women after which to name its newest streets and transport systems. But, as Joanna Robertson reports from Paris, the process of renaming is proving too slow for feminist groups
27/02/21·29m 11s

Afghanistan at a crossroads

Afghanistan has seen a surge in civilian casualties since US-brokered peace talks with the Taliban resumed last year. Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan President, however, still sees reason for optimism, thanks to the new-US administration with whom he hopes to have better relations. Lyse Doucet reflects on Kabul's battle to shake off a violent past. Businesses across Myanmar were closed on Monday as protestors in several cities held a General Strike in protest against the military coup and arrest of their civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Initial hopes for a peaceful resolution are now fading after troops fired live ammunition and tear gas into crowds in recent weeks. But a heavy-handed response is only sharpening the resolve of those on the streets, finds Ben Dunant. In 2014, a small farming village of Kocho in northern Iraq, was the scene of one of the worst massacres carried out by the Islamic State group, killing hundreds of people from the Yazidi ethno-religious minority. This month, 103 of the victims were returned to Kocho for proper burials. Lizzie Porter attended the funeral. In Greenland, a rare earth mining project is dominating the political agenda, with snap elections called for April. The proposed mine has inspired hopes that it could provide the windfall needed to gain full independence from Denmark. But, as Guy Kiddey discovered, on a recent trip,the project is also causing some distress. Every year in February, several towns in the French Riviera hold festivals to celebrate the Mimosa harvest. There are parades in the streets with floral floats, brass bands, and street orchestras And although the usual festivities have been cancelled this year, Christine Finn finds this year’s flowering still offers hope. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
25/02/21·28m 36s

Zuma’s Moment of Reckoning

South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma failed to appear at a corruption inquiry this week - an inquiry he himself set up when he was in power. But now he has been called to testify, he has accused the judge of carrying out a personal vendetta against him. The case has split the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress. In the eyes of many the former President will always be seen as the legendary liberation hero. Andrew Harding looks at why it’s proving so difficult to hold certain politicians to account in South Africa. We visit Wuhan in China, where, just over a year ago, a whistleblower - Li Wenliang - first drew the world's attention to the severity of the Coronavirus outbreak. A team of international scientists from the World Health Organisation have just returned from their month long visit to the city to try to identify the origins of the virus. China correspondent, Stephen McDonnell followed the motorcade of scientists on their tour and found information about what they learned was hard to come by. Tokyo's Olympics has faced a number of hurdles: last year the Games were postponed for the first time in their 124-year history due to the pandemic; Japan's Olympic chief was recently forced to stand down for making sexist comments and now there is local resistance to pressing ahead with the Games this Summer due to concerns about continued outbreaks finds Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. We visit the Uffizi gallery in Florence for an almost private view of some of the great works of Renaissance Art. Between lockdowns and restrictions, the museum re-opened briefly in January and Julia Buckley managed to steal a visit, without the tourists. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
20/02/21·28m 37s

A tribal gathering in Yemen

We visit the tribesmen of Yemen, which has for years been wracked by civil war. The conflict morphed into a proxy war in 2015 after a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia launched attacks on Iranian-backed Houthi Muslim rebels. And as the conflict has raged on, Yemeni civilians face economic hardship and starvation. Some of the country’s tribespeople have stepped up to play the role of peacemaker to try to restore order. Leila Molana -Allen heard about some of the challenges they face when she was a guest at a tribal gathering in the south of the country. For a president to undergo an impeachment process was until recently a somewhat rareified event, but former president Donald Trump has now undergone not one, but two sets of proceedings against him. The latest one examined his role in the storming of the Capitol building on January 6th. In the end, the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump – and as Anthony Zurcher found, the era of Trump’s influence is by no means a closed chapter for Republicans. Kosovo has been marking the 13th anniversary of its independence from Serbia. And voters have been ringing the changes, facing temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius and snow to cast their ballots – awarding a landslide victory for the opposition Self Determination party in last Sunday’s parliamentary election. Guy Delauney reports. Cuba is suffering. Economically the country is in its worst moment since the “Special Period”, a decade of severe austerity and shortages after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Breadlines are once again a common sight across the island. The hard times have prompted the government to undertake long-promised radical economic reforms. As Will Grant reports, the changes mean that even a low-key celebration of a special occasion can be tricky. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
18/02/21·28m 27s

Israel’s Vaccine Rollout

Israel’s health system has been in the spotlight as it races ahead with its coronavirus vaccination programme. More than half of eligible Israelis - about 3.5 million people - have now been fully or partially vaccinated. For our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman, covering the pandemic meant a return to his beat after a mishap on the streets of Jerusalem, and a vivid episode of his own in hospital. Next, Ireland, which in recent weeks has been caught in the middle of the row between the UK and the European Union over the Northern Irish protocol. The Irish Taoiseach, Michael Martin, called for both parties to “cool it”. But Ireland’s relationship with Brussels has, to date, been a largely positive one. Chris Paige looks back on Ireland’s evolution since it became a republic into a firmly European nation. Thirty years ago an American air strike destroyed an air raid shelter in Baghdad, killing hundreds. The previous August, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had invaded and occupied Kuwait, triggering a huge international response. Jeremy Bowen reflects on US interventions in the region and their bearing on the future. Pangolins are one of the most heavily trafficked species in the world and are now in the frame for being a possible source of the Covid-19 outbreak. In India, they are seen as a delicacy but a conservationist in Maharashtra is finding creative ways to help protect the mammals with a little help from Hindu mythology, says Geetanjali Krishna. We visit Seville, which may soon see the construction of its first new mosque since the 13th century. It’s a bold new initiative that has involved an ex-Premiership footballer, a former male model and an internet crowdfunding campaign, as Oliver Smith reports. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
13/02/21·28m 47s

Egypt’s brief wind of change

Ten years ago, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, was ousted after weeks of protest in Tahrir square in Cairo. Demonstrators proved an unstoppable force despite a brutal crackdown by authorities killing hundreds. But the post-Mubarak era has not heralded a period of greater freedoms. Kevin Connolly, who covered the fall of Mubarak, looks back on the protests in 2011 which have now fallen silent. President Emmanuel Macron has chosen not to impose a further lockdown, instead tightening borders, closing shopping malls and imposing a night-time curfew to keep the virus under control. Mr Macron now has one eye on the looming presidential campaign as two polls this week suggested his lead over the far-right’s Marine Le Pen is narrowing. Hugh Schofield reports from Paris. It's Oscar season again – and Pakistan’s entry in the best foreign film category is making the headlines. The plot centres on the fictional story of a devout Muslim and estate agent whose life is turned upside down when he dances sensually to a song at a wedding. The film has angered a religious group, and the government has postponed its release – indefinitely, says Secunder Kermani. At the beginning of the pandemic, Bulgaria’s authorities moved swiftly to impose stringent lockdowns on the country’s Roma communities. Many Roma settlements are cut off from essential services. In some neighbourhoods, military police barred the exits. As Bulgaria starts to re-open, Jean Mackenzie visits one settlement. On the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe, it’s taboo to mention the pandemic. In the Diamond Lake ski resort, slopes are full of visitors, happy to visit the restaurants – and casinos. It's a different story down the road in California, says Alice Hutton. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
11/02/21·28m 39s

The Lady and the General

Aung San Suu Kyi was once heralded by many in the west as a valiant campaigner for democratic rights. As civilian leader she looked set to put the country on a new path after years of military dictatorship. But her refusal to acknowledge the army’s ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims damaged her standing abroad. And although her party managed to secure a landslide victory in elections last year, it may prove to have been a pyrrhic one, says Jonathan Head, after the military coup this week. Mexican’s President, Manuel Lopez Obrador, may have had a lucky escape from the worst effects of Covid-19, but the same cannot be said for a vast numbers of his compatriots who are battling to find treatment. The president has now recovered, says Will Grant, but his citizens are still struggling for breath. In a court in Moscow this week, Russia’s opposition leader described President Vladimir Putin as “a poisoner” before he was sentenced to nearly three years in prison. Alexei Navalny’s arrest and sentencing has had an electrifying impact on the opposition movement in the country, as throngs of protestors took to the streets of Moscow, and beyond. Has the Kremlin finally over-played its hand? asks Sarah Rainsford. Our central Europe Correspondent Nick Thorpe has been following the Danube, upriver, from Romania to Germany. On one night, he accompanied a conservation team to go jackal howling among the biggest reed-beds on the planet. South Africa has been battling to control a new variant of Covid, detected in the country last year. More than 45 000 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic. or those who are grieving, the customary burial process has been curtailed. Many are restricted to watching live streams of the funeral, while closest family grieve alone, says Pumza Filhani. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
06/02/21·28m 37s

Lebanon’s Lockdown

Six months ago, an explosion, caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate, ripped through the city of Beirut. As the country struggles to rebuild amid a devastating economic crisis, a stringent lockdown has been imposed. In Tripoli, people are taking to the streets in protest. Leila Molana-Allen reports. San Francisco’s District Attorney is pioneering a new approach to tackling crime, focusing on the root causes with social care and drug therapy, rather than prison. Police unions are not convinced, and it’s not clear whether this novel approach to tackling crime, adopted in other liberal cities, will prove effective, says James Clayton. Last week the head of the Swedish Public Health Agency Johan Carlson admitted catching a bus during rush hour, without wearing a face mask. Carlson’s failure to adhere to the new restrictions hasn’t gone down well with the Swedish public. This has been compounded by a series of other breaches by ministers and public officials. It’s causing the country’s traditionally high levels of trust in authorities to wobble, as Maddy Savage reports from Stockholm. When China introduced economic reforms and began opening out in the 1980s, English language learning began with fervour. It remains popular today, with a proliferation of private English language learning schools across the country, but authorities are now downplaying its importance. Journalist LiJia Zhang once worked in a missile-factory – for her, learning a second language was the key to a new life. The Seychelles has two main industries that drive its economy: tourism and fishing. The fishing industry is struggling amid the pandemic, with fewer visitors, but it's also suffered years of mismanagement says Michelle Jana Chan. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
04/02/21·28m 45s

Brazil’s Steady Stream of Grief

Brazil is going through a deadly second-wave of Covid-19 – and it’s precipitated the collapse of the health system in– Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon. The hospitals are overloaded with patients and oxygen supplies have run perilously low. Local and national leaders are now coming under scrutiny for their management of the outbreak. Katy Watson visited Manaus. We hear from Afghanistan, where there has been a recent surge of targeted killings, blamed on the Taliban. Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have stalled, and the rise in violence is proving a toxic backdrop. Meanwhile, locals are worried that the further US drawdown in troops could herald the Taliban’s return, says Yogita Limaye. We have an insight into the cyber world of online extremists. Meet the team who track the outlandish web of conspiracy theories spun by shadowy groups. They watched the emergence of the group now known as QAnon. In a fiercely divided America where facts are often dismissed as fake news, blurring the boundaries of reality and myth has becomes all too easy, finds Alistair Coleman. We visit the small Russian town of Nikel where, until recently, a decades-old smelter produced tonnes of nickel. Nornikel, closed the smelter in December in a move they claim is part of their shift towards a greener future. But for hundreds of employees, their future is less clear, finds Guy Kiddey. In September 2017, a ferocious Category 5 hurricane swept through Dominica, St Croix and Puerto Rico with 160-mile-per hour winds. On the eastern-Caribbean island of Dominica, Hurricane Maria left a trail of devastation and 65 people died.. Mark Stratton went to visit the island recently where efforts continue to rebuild, even as they face a new storm front: Coronavirus. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
30/01/21·28m 53s

India’s farmers protest

In Delhi, Republic Day is usually a ceremonial occasion celebrated with military parades and cultural pageantry. But this year’s event was marred by violence – as thousands of farmers drove their tractors into New Delhi in an escalation of months of peaceful protests against proposed agricultural reforms. Rajini Vaidyanathan reports from New Delhi. The Netherlands is seeing its worst violence in 40 years with scenes of looting and rioting across the country. The collapse of the government earlier this month, followed by a tightening of restrictions due to Coronavirus has had a destabilising impact. Anna Holligan says the Dutch are wrestling with the disruption to the usual sense of order. The Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in precious minerals such as gold, diamonds and cobalt - but is still one of the poorest countries in the world. For over two decades, rebel groups have fought over mines in the east of the country where thousands of children also toil in the mines. Olivia Acland went to visit one of them Portugal has become one of the European countries hardest hit by the second wave of Covid-19 and another national lockdown has been imposed. Audrey Gillan visited Armona, an island off the coast of the Algarve, which is suffering from tightened travel restrictions and low visitor numbers. Cuba’s Fidel Castro was probably one of the most widely photographed and documented men of his time.. Will Grant has been trying to verify the details of one of those pictures – of Castro as a young man in a sugarcane field – which he needed for a book. It led him to the story of the audacious young German woman who snapped it six decades earlier.
28/01/21·28m 42s

Wuhan – one year on

A year ago Wuhan imposed a lockdown on its citizens, as reports filtered through of the first human-to-human transmission of a new strain of Coronavirus. A delegation from the World Health Organisation has now arrived in Wuhan to investigate the origins of the outbreak. Robin Brant returned to the wet food market in the city where life has returned to normal - almost. Washington was transformed into a fortress this week – both for visitors and residents alike in the lead up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Aleem Maqbool reflects on the contrast between the ceremony this week – and that of 2016. Russia's opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, returned to Moscow having recovered from a nerve-agent attack, which he blames on the Kremlin. He was arrested upon arrival and placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days in what could have been seen as a blow to the opposition. But – undeterred, they had something else up their sleeve, as Steve Rosenberg reports. Last weekend bouts of violence erupted on the streets in over a dozen neighbourhoods across Tunisia, with young people clashing in the streets with the police. But what’s behind the latest unrest? Ten years on from the revolution which triggered the Arab Spring uprisings, the slow pace of economic reform and high unemployment has caused widespread discontent as Rana Jawad reports. India began the world’s largest vaccination roll-out last weekend, aiming to vaccinate 1.3 billion people. The arrival of millions of doses of the two approved vaccines was greeted with jubilation and a festive atmosphere in cities across India. But there is still some reticence in taking up the vaccine, finds Rajini Vaidyanathan. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
23/01/21·28m 38s

Ireland's shame

This week, the Irish Taoiseach described the findings of an official report into decades of abuse of women and children at mother and baby homes as a “dark, difficult and very shameful chapter of very recent Irish history.” The report acknowledged the harsh treatment was supported and condoned by the Irish State and the country’s churches. Those who survived the homes battled with long running prejudices and emotional scars, finds Chris Paige. Indonesian airlines have one of the worst safety records in Asia. The fatal crash on January 9th has again raised questions about how safe the country’s airlines are and brought back painful memories. The BBC’s Asia editor, Rebecca Henschke, reports. There’s been a sluggish start to Covid vaccinations in many parts of the EU complicated by public resistance and disinformation. In the Czech Republic, anti-vaccination activists made international headlines this week by wearing yellow Stars of David, claiming they were being ostracised just as Jews were in Nazi Germany. Rob Cameron has more. Somalia has been in a state of conflict for three decades and this is reflected in media coverage of the region. And yet, life goes on, with even a construction boom in Mogadishu. Mary Harper, the BBC’s Africa editor found that Somalis are tiring of stereotypes about their country as a place of violence and suffering. In Nova Scotia - the lobster season usually starts late in November and finishes in May – and between those months, most fishermen are not allowed to catch the crustaceans. But thanks to a treaty, signed with the British in 1761, the Mi’kmaq people are exempt from this and can fish all year round. One businessman is doing rather well out of it much to the consternation of those who do not have these rights, finds Greg Mercer. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Serena Tarling
16/01/21·28m 59s

President Trump’s Legacy

In Washington, he storming of Capitol Hill this week by President Trump’s supporters has dominated headlines, but many political pundits said that this should not have taken people by surprise. Anthony Zurcher has covered the White House throughout Donald Trump’s term in office – he charts the clear path that led to this moment, from President Trump’s 2016 campaign. On Thursday, Uganda will go to the polls pitting two very different presidential candidates against each other. Yoweri Museveni has served five consecutive terms and his main challenger, the charismatic Bobi Wine has galvanised support among the youth. But can it guarantee Bobi Wine victory? Our Africa correspondent, Catherine Byaruhanga has been finding out. One day in April , 2015 an old fishing boat overloaded with refugees and migrants sank en route to Italy from Libya – drowning more than a thousand people. Then Italian Prime Minister declared the Italians would salvage the shipwreck and recover the corpses. The boat was raised from the seabed and transported to Sicily. Linda Pressly met the man in charge. Deep among the frosty pines in Baden-Württemberg, a factory is manufacturing the industrial freezers that are needed to keep the supplies of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at extreme cold temperatures. Germany's Covid infection and death rates are rising steeply. It’s a race against time as the vaccine is rolled out. Jenny Hill visited the factory dealing with a huge influx of new orders. And we visit Venezuela which has been suffering a deep socio-economic crisis for years. But our correspondent Katy Watson found out on a recent trip to the Hotel Humboldt, which overlooks Caracas, there are those who have benefitted.
09/01/21·29m 2s

Key moments of 2020 reported by our correspondents

Kate Adie reflects on key moments of 2020 with some of the most thought provoking dispatches by our correspondents. Andrew Harding, who covers Africa and is based in Johannesburg, spends a lot of his time travelling around the continent to witness events at first hand. The Coronavirus pandemic put a stop to much of that but he still had a dramatic story to tell in the autumn. He reflected on the somewhat ironic parallels he was seeing as he compared the situation within Africa with that of another key country in the world which was facing a significant election. Afghanistan is a country where it’s not easy to define the term outrage. Violence there has not abated despite peace talks between the government and the Tailiban. But an attack on Kabul University on November 2nd sent shock waves across the country and beyond. At least 35 people were left dead and 50 seriously wounded. Photographs of the murdered students and their blood-stained classrooms spread widely through Afghan social media. Lyse Doucet spoke to one university lecturer about the students he lost and the damage done to Afghanistan’s hopes for the future. The death of George Floyd, an African American living in Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota last summer triggered mass demonstrations across America and the world. He died whilst under arrest as a white police office knelt on his neck. Derek Chauvin has since been charged with murder. There was fury about police brutality and racist treatment of black Americans. In a country which has a massive gap between the richest and poorest, Emma Sapong, an African American journalist based in Minnesota reports that there is more than money that separates white and black lives there. The enormous blast in Beirut's port in August killed 200 people in the city and injured thousands. Buildings were destroyed and lives up-ended after stock piles of ammonium nitrate caught alight and exploded. People took to the streets to protest at a political elite who they accuse of mismanagement and negligence. One of those who was badly hurt was Leila Molana Allen, a journalist in the city. But as she reports, in the immediate aftermath she realised that her dog was missing. 2020 will be remembered by many as a year of lock downs and restrictions as countries around the world battled to control the coronavirus pandemic. It was a way of living that most of us had never experienced before and we all longed for a return to normality. Our correspondent in Brussels, Kevin Connolly had been confined at home for weeks when the rules were relaxed briefly in the summer. He was surprised by his urge to indulge in some rather unusual shopping. Producer: Caroline Bayley
02/01/21·29m 5s

The true state of the pandemic in Turkey

Turkey has had record numbers of new coronavirus infections recently with around 30,000 positive cases a day. That number has now dropped slightly, and the Health Ministry says restrictions have begun to bear fruit. But how did it get to this, in a country which was initially regarded as doing well in the pandemic? Now the government has been accused of covering up the spread of the virus, and putting lives at risk, as Orla Guerin reports from Istanbul. In Sudan’s western region of Darfur, the long-running armed conflict has cost 300,000 lives, and forced two and a half million people to flee their homes. After a peace deal in August, the international peacekeeping force is preparing to pull out this month. Hopes now rest on the new part-civilian, part-military government, which came to power after 30 years of dictatorial rule. But as Mike Thomson found, the dual structure of the new administration can pose challenges on the ground. People in Bethlehem are preparing for an austere Christmas without the income from foreign pilgrims and tourists – but you can still find stories of hope there. Especially at the Milk Grotto – near the Nativity Church – where the Virgin Mary is said to have nursed baby Jesus. It’s long been claimed that women who have difficulties conceiving are blessed with children after praying at the grotto, or using bits of soft chalk, or “milk powder”, from its walls, as Yolande Knell reports. New York City was hit worse than many places during the first wave of the pandemic, and Nick Bryant and his wife both caught the virus. So his adopted home is the perfect perch from which to observe, and now reflect on, the extraordinary year that was 2020. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
19/12/20·28m 57s

American presidents and the Middle East

When there's change in the Middle East, there is a good chance the United States had something to do with it, as with the recent accords between Israel and four Arab states. And now a new American president is preparing to move into the White House. What could this mean for the region, asks Jeremy Bowen. Thailand has been convulsed by large demonstrations this year, in which young people have been calling for reform and for changes to the once untouchable monarchy, even though criticising the king carries long prison sentences. Royalists are shocked by these campaigns and want things to stay as they are, says Jonathan Head. Italy's coronavirus crisis started in the north and eventually reached the far south, including the region of Calabria. An area blighted not just by the pandemic, but also by the powerful and ruthless 'Ndrangheta mafia whose crimes have made it much harder to cope with the virus for restaurants and even for hospitals, as Mark Lowen found out. Relations between China and the west have come under strain in recent years – but we buy vast amounts of Chinese products, and so China has developed its “Belt and Road” initiative. Part of its purpose is to enable the transport of goods from China to Europe by train. This has brought investment as far as Germany's former industrial region of the Ruhr, says Caroline Bayley. The Galapagos islands off the coast of Ecuador are known for their wildlife, from slow giant tortoises to fast baby iguanas. Charles Darwin spent five weeks there, and then developed the theory of evolution. Apart from the survival of the fittest, it's also about adaptation. Something that's been happening on these islands during the pandemic, as Jamie Lafferty reports. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
12/12/20·28m 47s

Stamping out dissent in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong,the authorities are showing that they mean business with the new security law to stamp out demonstrations and dissent. The pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been detained, and young campaigners including protest leader Joshua Wong were sentenced to prison this week. Before that, the pro-democracy opposition resigned en masse, as Danny Vincent reports. Seventeen weeks after the presidential election that is widely thought to have been rigged and that led to Belarus's largest-ever anti-government protests, President Alexander Lukashenko still refuses to step down. But he has lost the support of some of his police officers, a few of whom have fled to Poland. Lucy Ash meets one of them. Araucania in southern Chile is a land of ancient volcanoes, virgin forests and agriculture. But recently it has been making headlines for arson attacks on timber lorries and prisoners on hunger strike. This is the homeland of one of Chile’s main indigenous peoples – the Mapuche. They want their land back that was taken from them not by early colonisers but by General Pinochet, as Jane Chambers found out. In Australia there has been a new impetus to look at past injustices this year, as elsewhere. And these include a little-known practice akin to the slave trade. In what is known as “black-birding”, islanders from the South Pacific were brought to work in Australia against their will, as Will Higginbotham reports. Across Europe, coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions have shut opera houses, theatres and concert halls. Despite receiving large government grants and loans, the performing arts are now facing a critical period in countries like Italy, France, Germany and Austria, says Joanna Robertson. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
05/12/20·28m 50s

Facing defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh

Nagorno-Karabakh, the ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, became the frontline of a war again this autumn. This resulted in Azerbaijan regaining some of the territory lost in previous conflicts – and with it, homes and landmarks that are precious to Armenians. Peter Oborne was there just as the current Russian-backed peacekeeping deal was announced. Political dramas in Peru reached new heights this month, when the country saw no fewer than three presidents in power in a single week. Tensions also spilled out onto the streets – with large demonstrations and battles between protesters and police in the capital Lima. Now the dust has settled, a new youth movement has come to the fore, as Dan Collyns reports. In the Pakistani city of Lahore, hundreds of thousands of people turned out for the funeral of a highly controversial cleric, Khadim Rizvi, who had campaigned for even stricter punishment of “blasphemers” – people accused of insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammed. Rizvi and his supporters have been linked to violent attacks in Paris, Britain and in Pakistan. Secunder Kermani reflects on his life and his legacy. The city of Gatineau in Quebec in Canada has been designated a “red zone”, Canada’s highest level of pandemic restrictions. Schools have stayed open though, and one headteacher had an idea for how to keep everyone safe: he moved classes outdoors, in all weathers, as Sian Griffiths reports. France has been under a strict lockdown in recent weeks. Non-essential shops have been closed until today. Horatio Clare spent time in the city of Marseille on France’s Mediterranean coast during the lockdown. How has the normally bustling city fared, where "to arrive is to belong"? Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
28/11/20·29m 1s

United States: Presidential transitions

In the United States, President Trump still hasn’t conceded that he has lost the election. His campaign is doubling down making claims of voter fraud. But without evidence. Meanwhile, the election winner, Joe Biden, is preparing to become president while being denied access to the briefings he is entitled to as President-elect, as Anthony Zurcher reports from Washington. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been dubbed the Trump of the Tropics. Despite widespread criticism of his handling of the pandemic, he has been gaining support from an unexpected place recently – in the country's northeast, known as a left-wing stronghold. But a new welfare benefit is changing the political landscape there, as Katy Watson found. Russia passed the two-million mark of Covid-19 cases this week. One of the worst affected areas is the Archangelsk region in the north, on the White Sea of the Arctic Ocean. It's been hit so hard, that overstretched healthcare workers are defying their bosses and speaking out, as Sarah Rainsford reports. It's Black Friday next week, when retailers try to entice their customers with big discounts. In France however there’s talk of postponing the event because of the current lockdown, to give the smaller bricks-and-mortar shops a chance against the internet-based competition. Lucy Williamson has been to visit a legendary bookshop in Paris: Shakespeare and Company. The island of Madagascar has a wealth of different habitats, that are home to thousands of endemic species of plants and animals that exist nowhere else, like the round-eyed lemurs. But the remaining forests are under threat, as Michelle Jana Chan found out when trekking in a remote canyon. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
21/11/20·29m 13s

Diwali in India during the pandemic

For Hindus, Sikhs and Jains it's Diwali - the festival of lights. But this year there's the pandemic. What impact is that having in India, asks Rajini Vaidyanathan in Delhi. In Azerbaijan, the decades-long intermittent war with Armenia over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh flared up again in September. Earlier this week, Russia brokered a deal to end the conflict. Olga Ivshina has just returned from the Azeri side of the frontline, where reporters' safety was not just threatened by shelling. The French Caribbean island of Martinique has a difficult relationship with its past. For about two hundred years the colony relied on enslaved Africans to work in its sugar cane plantations. Some think that period might have been shorter if it hadn't been for Josephine, the wife of Napoleon. And as Tim Whewell found, that's not the only sensitive subject of conversation on the island. Bicycles have been recommended as a safe form of transport in the pandemic, and cities around Europe have been improving their cycling infrastructure as a result. Anna Holligan lives in the Netherlands, where cycling is second nature to many, and says that even there, more people are now switching to two wheels. On Mosher Island off the coast of Canada’s Nova Scotia province, self-isolation takes on a different meaning. No need to worry about social distancing, there is no one to keep a distance from. The island only has two residents, a former lighthouse keeper and his wife. Greg Mercer paid them a visit. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
14/11/20·28m 52s

US election: Georgia, the new swing state?

In the US, lots of eyes are still on the outcome of the election in Georgia. Joe Biden appears to have to have narrowly won the state, but the margin is so narrow that local law requires a recount. Suzanne Kianpour hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and found herself back there as the votes were being counted. Parts of South East Asia’s largest remaining rainforests, in Indonesia’s Papua province, are being cleared to make way for oil palm plantations. Rebecca Henschke has been investigating allegations a Korean palm oil company was involved in unfair land deals with local tribes, and she hears from clan elders about what’s been lost. Venice is built on a lagoon, with canals for streets, and floods a common occurrence. There was a particularly devastating surge a year ago today. A flood barrier, delayed for decades, finally had its first full test last month. Called Mose, like Italian for Moses, will it be able to stop rising Venetian seas? Julia Buckley has been testing the waters. Iran has often been accused of repression at home – and assassination abroad. The regime targets its critics and enemies anywhere in the world and has been implicated in attacks from Argentina to the Netherlands. Jiyar Gol has been investigating the killings of two Dutch-Iranians . Have you come across the Greek dish kleftiko? It's slow-cooked lamb. The name is related to the words kleptocracy and kleptomania, the “klept” part of it being from the Greek for thief. In the case of the lamb recipe, the theft refers to sheep rustling. A tradition that goes back a long way in Crete, says Heidi Fuller-Love, but has recently become more serious. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
12/11/20·28m 54s

The Murder of Afghanistan's Dreams

A brutal assault on Kabul University, the biggest and oldest in the country, left at least 35 dead and 50 wounded. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, but the Afghan government and the Taliban are blaming each other for it, when the two sides are meant to be focusing on peace talks. Lyse Doucet speaks to one University lecturer about the students he lost. There was an attack in Austria too, in Vienna, which killed four people and injured more than 20 others, in a neighbourhood that houses Vienna's main synagogue, but is known as the Bermuda Triangle, a key nightlife area full of bars and restaurants. The shooting was the deadliest attack in Vienna for decades. Bethany Bell reports on an evening that shook a city. Eighteen Sicilian fishermen are being detained in prison in the Libyan city of Benghazi, accused of fishing in Libyan waters. This part of the Mediterranean is rich in the lucrative red prawn, and so these arrests are not uncommon. Usually the men are released after negotiations. But this time that's proving difficult, says Linda Pressly. In Kyrgyzstan, traditional turbans for women called elecheks are made with many metres of the finest white cotton. Nowadays women mostly wear headscarves, and the elecheks are kept as heirlooms. But during these pandemic times one textile collector has cut an elechek up to make masks for local hospitals, as Caroline Eden reports. Swallows that spend the summer in Britain have left for their winter destination of South Africa. The flight takes them several weeks, through France, Spain and Morocco, then across the Sahara, and the tropical rainforests. They eat flying insects. Stephen Moss went to look for them in a reed-bed on a lake near Durban. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
07/11/20·29m 1s

Investigating Nigeria's protest shootings

Nigeria's EndSARS demonstrations have ground to a halt following the fatal shooting of at least 12 people, although that number is disputed. Investigations into the incident are underway and a panel has been hearing evidence in Lagos. But as Mayeni Jones has found out, the search for the truth in Nigeria, involves a great deal of theatre. In China, ethnic Mongolians appear to have become the latest target for an ever-more repressive Communist Party under Xi Jinping. The central government – which is dominated by China’s majority Han Chinese – decided to reduce Mongolian language teaching, which prompted rare protests in China’s Inner Mongolia. Stephen McDonell went there to find out more. America's deep divisions about its attitudes to past and present injustices towards ethnic minorities manifested themselves in reactions to the tearing down of statues or Confederate flags this year. And as Jo Erickson found out when she walked up Mount Evans in Colorado, even the name of a mountain can be controversial - but because of Native American rather than African American history. Sami Kent is of mixed British and Turkish descent, and when he recently returned to live in the Turkish city of Istanbul after spending the first months of the pandemic in Britain, he found his aunt or "hala" much changed. Fear of the virus meant that now, her daily walk, for which she puts her trainers on, is no more than pacing up and down on the balcony. Malta is battling Covid-19 along with the rest of Europe. Quarantine, though, is nothing new to Malta, and its healthcare, good today, was once the envy of Europe. Juliet Rix takes us back to the days of the Knights of Malta, the Order of St John Hospitaller. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
05/11/20·28m 46s

An unprecedented US election

Record numbers of Americans have already voted early in the US elections. The country has become more polarised under President Trump, but it remains to be seen whether the high early turnout is due to heightened political feelings, or concerns about catching the virus on polling day. Nick Bryant reflects on the political state of the nation, and on an election campaign that turned out very differently from how it looked before the pandemic struck. Thousands of young Nigerians have protested in recent weeks against a notorious police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, which became infamous for unlawful killings, torture and extortion. The demonstrations spread from Nigeria’s largest city Lagos, to other parts of the country and even internationally. What had started as taking a stance against police brutality, turned into much more, as Yemisi Adegoke reports from Lagos. In Poland, a ruling from the constitutional court last week outlawed terminations in cases of severe foetal defects - 98% of those carried out last year. Poland already had one of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws, and the new edict has sparked large protests over the past week. Lucy Ash caught up with some demonstrators in the capital Warsaw. Even though far fewer people are flying than usual, Berlin is opening a new airport today, Berlin-Brandenburg. Not that it was planned that way. The modern airport was meant to open a decade ago, but there were repeated delays and it went almost three times over budget. So are the locals glad the big day has finally come? Not really, says Jenny Hill, who’s not the only one in Berlin who will be mourning the old airport, Tegel. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
31/10/20·28m 53s

Voting Early in the US Elections

Five days before the American election, record numbers have cast their ballots already, making use of the expansion in early voting due to the pandemic. Naturalised US citizens make up one in ten eligible voters this year. Among them Laura Trevelyan, who voted in the presidential race as a US citizen for the first time, joining the queues in New York City. For Lebanon, 2020 has been a veritable annus horribilis: the pandemic, an unprecedented economic crisis, and the huge blast that destroyed parts of Beirut, and led to the resignation of the cabinet. Now a former Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, has been asked to form a government. If he succeeds, it’ll be his third time in the job. Plus ca change, or last chance for Lebanon, asks Martin Patience. Chile held a referendum on Sunday about replacing the current constitution, which dates from General Pinochet’s military dictatorship. The Yes vote won overwhelmingly. But the poll had been a heated topic of conversation for months, reflecting the deep divisions in society, as Jane Chambers has found. Seychelles in the Indian Ocean looks like a tropical paradise. But there’s a tougher reality in the island state ruled by the same party for over 40 years. And now there’s been a political earthquake: an opposition candidate, a priest, won the presidency for the first time. He'll have more than tourists and tuna to deal with, says Patrick Muirhead. For those still travelling, much has changed with the pandemic - quarantines, wearing masks, producing negative Covid-19 tests before departure. And then there are the other passengers. It all makes for novel experiences, says travel writer Mark Stratton - including good ones, like seeing the Mona Lisa without the crowds. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
29/10/20·28m 43s

Tensions in rural South Africa

In South Africa, racial tensions have been heightened in some rural areas, particularly after the murder of Brendin Horner, a young white farm manager. Cases like his have led to claims of ethnic cleansing. But as President Ramaphosa pointed out, the killings are cases of criminality, not genocide. Andrew Harding went to the small town of Senekal to investigate what's underlying these racial tensions. In Paraguay in South America, the river of the same name last week dipped to its lowest level ever recorded after months of drought. That’s a problem in this landlocked country which uses the waterway to transport the vast majority of its traded goods. And where does it leave the local fishermen? William Costa has been finding out, and asks what's causing the lack of rainfall. The Covid-19 pandemic has severely restricted international travel. That's meant Kamin Mohammadi can no longer divide her time between Italy, Britain and Iran as she used to, for family and work reasons. Now Tuscany has become a true home, not because of remote working, nor even finally having the time to appreciate things like bees on a lemon tree. But it was due to sharing the depths of Italy's sorrow at the height of the pandemic. After the First World War, tourists went to France to visit the battlefields. Among them was the future novelist Rumer Godden. Then a girl of 15, she was taken with her three sisters to see the theatres of war of the Marne. They stayed in the town of Château-Thierry, east of Paris. That holiday formed the basis of Rumer Godden’s celebrated later novel The Greengage Summer. It’s a favourite of Hugh Schofield, so it was on something of a personal mission that he set off in search of … the greengage summer. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius
24/10/20·28m 11s

The King and Thais

Thailand has been rocked by months of student street protests that have intensified in recent days. They're unprecedented in that they don't just criticise the government, but also the monarchy - a taboo in Thailand. Jonathan Head in Bangkok reports on what may be a critical turning point in a political upheaval. This week it’s exactly a year since the Spanish government exhumed the remains of dictator General Francisco Franco from his mausoleum. But the question of how to handle the divisive legacy of the country’s 1930's civil war and the ensuing decades-long dictatorship under Franco remains a contentious issue in Spanish politics and society. And now there are new efforts to tackle it, as Guy Hedgecoe reports from Madrid. In Jordan, the already high unemployment has risen further during the pandemic, but the country remains attractive to migrant workers from nearby Egypt where wages are lower. But, as Charlie Faulkner hears from an Egyptian cobbler, the choice to stay in Jordan to keep his job, comes at a high price. In the US, attitudes to China have hardened in recent years, with trade tariffs, and blame for the coronavirus. In China, attitudes to the United States have changed too, but also in more positive terms, at least when looked at over a longer period of time, such as the lifespan of the grandfather of Vincent Ni. The 15th Rome Film Festival is running this week - taking place in a city that is, itself, an iconic cinematic location that still holds an irresistible allure for filmmakers across the world. This brings welcome jobs and much-needed money to the cash-strapped capital, and, as Joanna Robertson reports, headaches – and questions - to many residents. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius