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Faranak Amidi takes a fresh look at the stories of the week with journalists from our 40 language sections.


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Faranak Amidi takes a fresh look at the stories of the week with journalists from our 40 language sections.




Medicines and cinema: Gaza Lifeline

BBC Arabic's Gaza Lifeline launched 3 months ago to provide life-saving information for citizens forced from their homes by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, and struggling to find the necessities of life. Journalists Karim Moustafa, Amira Dakroury and Marwa Gamal tell us about the information they provide, and the stories they've covered. Kazakhstan’s school headscarf ban There's a dilemma for Muslim schoolgirls in Kazakhstan who want to wear the hijab. It violates the country's school uniform rules, and girls who refuse to take off the hijab have been expelled. BBC Russian's Aisymbat Tokoeva went to Kazakhstan to meet one of these students and her parents to find out more. The death of Alexei Navalny Following reports of the death in prison of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, BBC Russian editor Famil Ismailov explains what’s known about his death, and reminds us about his eventful life and political career. Senegal's election crisis Senegal's reputation as a stable democracy has been called into question after President Macky Sall's decision to delay this month's presidential election until December. Protesters took to the streets, and now the country's top court has ruled that the decision is against the constitution. Beverly Ochieng of BBC Monitoring in Nairobi has been following events. Photo: Palestinian Israel conflict camp. Credit: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images


What is happening at Zaporizhzhia?

There have been concerns about the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, which was seized by Russian forces in March 2022. Following this week's visit to the plant by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vitaliy Shevchenko of BBC Monitoring explains the findings of the team. The Year of the Dragon At the start of the Year of the Dragon, we look at the importance of the dragon in Chinese culture. We also find out why there's growing pressure to differentiate the Chinese dragon, or "loong", from the Western idea of a dragon. Our guide is Suping from BBC Monitoring. Indian labourers applying for jobs in Israel Israel has been dealing with a labour shortage since it revoked the work permits of thousands of Palestinians after the October 7 attacks. Large-scale recruitment sessions have been organized by the Israeli government in India, and BBC Hindi's Anant Zanane of BBC Hindi met applicants in Lucknow. The Turkish earthquake, one year on BBC Turkish journalist Esra Yalcinalp shares the story of Nurgül Göksu, a woman who lost her son, daughter-in-law and baby granddaughter when their apartment block collapsed, while those around it stayed standing. She hired excavators to recover evidence from the rubble, evidence now being used in prosecutions. The first lady, a pastor, and a designer handbag BBC Korean’s Yuna Ku explains why South Korea has been gripped by the story of a Dior bag given to the president’s wife by a Christian pastor. (Photo: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Credit: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)


Election symbols in Pakistan

Electoral symbols are crucial in Pakistani elections, helping illiterate voters find their party on the ballot paper. So when Pakistan's Supreme Court upheld a decision to strip the PTI party of Imran Khan of its cricket bat symbol last week, many cried foul. BBC Urdu editor Asif Farooqi explains the rich history of symbols, and how this relates to Pakistan's forthcoming elections. The 63-year-old Pakistani going back to school BBC Urdu's Azizullah Khan met the 63 year old man in north west Pakistan who’s enrolled in his local primary school after missing out on an education as a boy. Thailand’s iguana village BBC Thai’s Tossapol Chaisamritpol visits the village overrun by iguanas, believed to be the offspring of pets left behind by a family from Bangkok, and now numbering many hundreds. Ukraine's ‘acoustic violence‘ ban So-called ‘acoustic violence’ on public transport has been banned in Ukraine. New legislation prohibits bus drivers from playing music, with passengers now required to wear headphones when playing videos or music on their phones. Ilona Hromiluk from BBC Ukraine has experienced it herself, and explains how the war has hastened this shift. The South Korean family seeking justice for a 1968 killing BBC Korean’s Jungmin Choi tells the story of a South Korean man whose family were killed when North Korean guerrillas attacked his village in 1968. The story is back in the news after his son won a court case holding North Korea responsible, and awarding compensation, though whether this can be enforced remains doubtful. (Photo: In a village outside Lahore, a voter puts his finger print on his ballot. Credit: Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty Images)


Balochistan: Iran Pakistan conflict

This month Iran launched a missile attack into Pakistan's Balochistan region, claiming to target an Iranian anti-regime militant group based there. Days later Pakistan retaliated with missiles it claimed were directed at Baloch-Pakistan militants in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province. BBC Urdu's Saher Baloch visited the border city of Turbat in Pakistan's Balochistan province to find out what impact this is having on cross border relations, and what these militants want. Chinese students choose Thai universities BBC Thai recently reported that more and more Chinese students are choosing to study in Thai universities, making up 60% of all international students. It's particularly common with private universities, so Thanyaporn Buathong visited Krirk university near Bangkok to find out why. Shamans and Indonesian politics Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, but many people are also very superstitious. So during elections, many politicians turn to shamans to give them the edge over their opponents, as Hanna Samosir of BBC Indonesian reports. Nigeria's youth curling team A group of Nigerian teenagers known as "The Broomzillas" have made history as the first curling team from Africa to appear at the Winter Youth Olympics which opened in South Korea last week. BBC Africa sports journalist Emmanuel Akindubuwa met the team to find out what obstacles they’d overcome to get there. "Hunting" foreigners A debate emerged in Vietnam about the term and practice of 'hunting foreigners'. Many students seek out English speakers to practice their linguistic skills on, and while many tourists are happy to oblige, others find it intrusive or inappropriate. BBC Vietnamese's Thuong Le explains the debate, while BBC Chinese's Yan Chen remembers his own English hunting days. (Photo: Blue informal fuel trade trucks on Pakistani Balochistan border with Iran. Credit: BBC)


Bring them home: Israel's hostages

Since the 7th October attacks, BBC Arabic's Michael Shuval has interviewed many of the families of those abducted by Hamas and held captive in Gaza. The families held an event marking 100 days since their abduction, close to the Nova festival site, as part of their campaign to bring their loved ones home. The new Ram temple and the transformation of Ayodhya Next week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fulfil a decades-long Hindu nationalist pledge by opening the Ram Mandir on one of India's most controversial religious sites. Nitin Srivastava of BBC Delhi is from the area and has been covering the event. Ecuador’s war on the drug gangs This week the violence in Ecuador linked to powerful drug gangs saw the murder of a leading prosecutor, following prison escapes, explosions, and even an attack on a TV station. BBC Mundo’s Ana Maria Roura, who’s from Ecuador, explains what the government is up against and how it's responding. Journey to Journalism: BBC Urdu's Nazish Faiz What motivates our language service colleagues to become journalists? We hear from BBC Urdu's Nazish Faiz, who grew up in a conservative family in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. She challenged cultural and family norms to become a journalist, and is now inspiring the next generation of village girls. (Photo: Wall painting highlighting hostages in the Gaza Strip on November 22, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Credit: Amir Levy/Getty Images)


Discovering the real TB Joshua

A BBC Africa Eye investigation has found evidence of widespread abuse and torture by the late TB Joshua, founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, which has followers around the world. The team was supported by Nigerian investigative journalist Adejuwon Soyinka, who tells us when the pastor first came to his attention and what he discovered about him. Secret trains and Russian prisoners The disappearance of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and his reappearance three weeks later in the so-called 'Polar Wolf' Arctic penal colony, has shed light on Russia's long history of secret trains and penal colonies, as BBC Russian's Oleg Boldyrev reports. Election protests in Serbia: the bigger picture Serbia has seen weeks of protests after alleged voting irregularities during parliamentary and local elections last month, won by the ruling party. President Aleksandar Vučić has rejected calls for an international probe, but the opposition coalition Serbians Against Violence continues to dispute the results, as BBC Serbian's Aleksandar Miladinović explains. Sindh's sibling rappers Two siblings from Sindh in Pakistan have been using rap to tackle taboo topics rarely discussed in their communities, including menstruation, domestic violence and religion. Shumaila Khan of BBC Urdu met them. Presented by Irena Taranyuk. (Photo: Nigerian pastor TB Joshua. Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images)


Rushdi Abualouf: family, work and war

The BBC’s Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abualouf reported from Gaza for more than 20 years, but last November he and his family left for the safety of Istanbul. He tells us about the challenges of his new life, and the chaos, death and destruction of his final weeks in Gaza, as Israel retaliated for the Hamas cross-border assault of 7 October. The Brazilian bat rediscovered after 100 years A bat discovered in part of Brazil's Atlantic Forest in 2018 has been officially confirmed as a species which hadn't been seen for more than a century. It was originally documented by an English zoologist in 1916. André Biernath of BBC Brasil tells us why its rediscovery is so important in understanding Brazilian biodiversity. Building a future in Mozambique, five years after Cyclone Idai In March 2019, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, killing over one and a half thousand people and affecting three million people across three countries. The BBC's Nomsa Maseko travelled to Beira, one of the worst affected areas, soon after it hit, and now she's returned for a documentary called Building a future for cyclone-hit Mozambique. She tells us what she discovered. Taboo-busting women in Indian-administered Kashmir A group of women in Indian-administered Kashmir have joined forces in order to break taboos. BBC Urdu joined them in a visit to a hareesa restaurant, a place usually only frequented by men. Riyaz Masroor tells us why these women formed the group, and what they thought of the hareesa. Presented by Irena Taranyuk. (Photo: The BBC's Rushdi Abualouf reporting from Gaza in November 2023. Credit: BBC)


Stories of hope and joy

BBC language service journalists share stories and experiences that lifted their spirits in a year with more than its fair share of tragic news. BBC Russian's Nataliya Zotova explains how an imperious seagull named Agamemnon helped her settle in her new home in Riga, after leaving Russia. BBC Delhi’s Divya Arya tells us about helping an interviewee who had shared her story of surviving domestic violence and living with significant facial burns, to become a guest presenter for BBC Hindi. BBC Afghan's Aalia Farzan tells us about presenting a schools programme for Afghan children, and being able to return home and see her mother again for the first time since she was forced to leave in 2021. BBC Brasil’s Joao Fellet shares the story of the Japanese Brazilian farmers in the Amazonian state of Pará, who have switched from mono-cropping to agroforestry, regrowing a forest of sorts and providing a profitable model for land cleared by logging. And Ethiopian-based journalist Kalkidan Yibeltal shares the experience of travelling to the Simien Mountains in northern Ethiopia and experiencing the therapeutic quiet and stillness of the national park, in a year otherwise devoted to covering conflict. (Photo: Seagull on windowsill in Riga. Credit: Nataliya Zotova, BBC)


Ukraine: ancient and modern

Presented by Irena Taranyuk A stalled front line and diplomatic challenges - we look at the pressures on Ukraine with Vitaliy Shevchenko, Russia editor at BBC Monitoring. And Daria Taradai of BBC Ukrainian tells us about the return to Kyiv of hundreds of ancient Scythian treasures from Crimea, which were on loan to a European museum when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Their arrival in Kyiv follows almost 10 years of legal battles with Russia. Pilgrimage to Aksum Thousands of pilgrims recently made their way to Aksum in Ethiopia, for a religious holiday taking place for the first time since the end of the civil war in the northern region of Tigray. Aksum is a holy site for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who say it is home to the Ark of the Covenant. BBC Tigrinya’s Girmay Gebru, who’s based in the regional capital Mekelle, travelled to Aksum to talk to local people and visitors. HIV and sterilisation: a legal victory in Kenya After a nine-year legal battle, four Kenyan women living with HIV have shared their stories with BBC Africa, of how they were sterilised without informed consent. They have now received compensation, and the recognition that the procedures they went through at a public hospital were carried out because of their HIV status. Health correspondent Dorcas Wangira tells us about meeting them, and the legal significance of this ruling. Lost and found: Indonesia’s rare echidna Pristine forests, crystal clear water, and an ancient species of animal that was believed to be extinct - BBC Indonesian's Famega Syavira travelled to northeastern Papua to report on the rediscovery of Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna. Previously, the only evidence of this rare species of the egg-laying mammal was a dead specimen in a Dutch museum, collected 60 years ago. (Photo: A copy of the Scythian Pectoral exhibited in the Treasury of the National Museum of History of Ukraine. Credit: Pavlo Bahmut/Getty Images)


Somalia after the floods

Somalia is struggling with the aftermath of its worst floods for many decades, which have affected more than two million people. Some were already displaced, having lost their livelihoods in the acute drought which preceded the flooding. It’s a big story for BBC Somali, and journalist Fardowsa Hanshi tells us how they’ve been covering it. Being a tourist in Afghanistan Since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, Afghanistan has seen a reduction in violence. This has opened up the country to both local and foreign tourists. Shoaib Sharifi of BBC Media Action recently took a trip around his native country, and saw it in a way that he never had before. He shares some memorable moments from his journey. North Korean hack It's recently emerged that the notorious North Korean hacking group Andariel has stolen vast amounts of data from South Korea. Around 1.2 terabytes of information was taken from industries including pharmaceutical companies and defence firms as well as universities. Rachel Lee of BBC Korean tells us more about the hacking and how it was discovered. A lifeline for Hong Kong's domestic workers Foreign domestic workers have become indispensable for many families in Hong Kong. However, their physical and mental health are sometimes affected by busy schedules and lack of space and exercise. Now some have found a lifeline, thanks to a personal trainer who offers them free fitness classes. Benny Lu from BBC Chinese went to investigate. Sri Lanka's doctor exodus Huge numbers of doctors and other professionals are leaving Sri Lanka due to the economic situation and escalating taxes. BBC Sinhala's Sampath Dissanayake reports on what led to this crisis and the impact it is having on Sri Lankans. (Photo: Extreme flooding in Somalia. Credit: BBC)


Breathless: the human cost of flaring

A BBC Arabic investigation has revealed that toxic pollutants released during gas flaring are endangering millions more people than previously feared. Flaring - the burning of waste gas during oil drilling - is taking place across the Gulf, including by COP28 hosts, the United Arab Emirates. Reporter Sarah Ibraham tells us what the documentary, Breathless, reveals about how the pollution can spread hundreds of kilometres, affecting air quality across the entire region. Hong Kong city walks Sampson Wong is the author of two books about walks around Hong Kong, and has been promoting the benefits of walking and watching since Covid. Meiqing Guan from BBC Chinese joined him to find out more. Covering the Uttarakhand tunnel rescue It took 17 days to free the 41 workers trapped in a collapsed Himalayan road tunnel in northern India. BBC Hindi’s Anant Zanane was reporting from the scene, and broke the story live on air. The matriarchal herders of Shimshal For the BBC's 100 Women season, BBC Urdu's Farhat Javed trekked to Pakistan’s Shimshal Valley with the Wakhi shepherdesses, a female-led community who have used the wealth from raising livestock at extreme altitudes to build roads, and educate their children. Serbia’s multi-millionaire barber – myth or reality? This year marks the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Nikola Bizumić, the Serbian barber reputed to have moved to London, changed his name to John Smith, and made piles of money from his invention: the hair clipper. BBC Serbian's Nemanja Mitrović has been digging into his mysterious story, particularly what happened to his missing millions. (Photo: Gas flaring in the Rumaila oil field in Southern Iraq. Credit: BBC)


Sudan's IDP crisis

It's seven months since fighting in Sudan erupted between the national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Peace talks in Saudi Arabia have so far failed to secure a truce, leaving over five million Sudanese internally displaced, and a humanitarian crisis imminent without a ceasefire according to the UN. BBC Arabic's Mohamed Osman was forced to leave his home in Omdurman, but returned to Port Sudan, the country's de facto capital, to report on those made homeless by the war. Kimchi Day in Little Korea This week South Koreans celebrated Kimchi Day in honour of the famous national dish made from tangy and spicy fermented vegetables. And for the first time, this year Kimchi Day was also celebrated in Europe, and more specifically the London suburb of New Malden. BBC Korean's Yuna Ku explains why. The Ukrainian teenager called up by the Russian army Bogdan Yermokhin is a 17-year-old Ukrainian forcefully removed from occupied Ukraine to Russia. He recently received conscription papers from the Russian army, to fight against Ukraine. Nina Nazarova of BBC Russian shares his story. Mumbai’s women cricketers As cricket lovers in India grapple with the disappointment of losing to Australia in the men’s Cricket World Cup, BBC Marathi have been reporting a good news cricket story. Janhavee Moole of BBC Marathi visited a women’s cricket club in Mumbai, which has 300 members, the eldest of whom is 72, and the youngest 9. Argentina's president-elect and the woman he calls "The Boss" Meet Karina, sister of president-elect Javier Milei. She was by his side at every step of his presidential campaign, and presented him to his euphoric supporters when his victory was announced. But what do we know about her? Answers from BBC Mundo’s Fernanda Paul. (Photo: Sudanese IDP camp in Port Sudan where those displaced by war live in makeshift tents. Credit: BBC)


Eagles helping locate Israel's dead

Following the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7th October, conservationists have been using unconventional methods to locate the bodies of the dead. Its civilian Nature and Parks Authority is using tracking devices on rare migratory birds to help locate the missing, passing information on where they stop onto the authorities. It says one eagle has helped recover four bodies, as BBC Arabic’s Michael Shuval reports. Indonesia's village influencers Two young village women in Indonesia have become surprise social media stars for their video posts about simple village life. BBC Indonesian's Trisha Husada spoke to Lika and Nia to find out more about their lives. The life and legacy of Iranian singer 'Golpa' Many Iranians have been mourning the loss of one their most prominent vocalists, Akbar Golpayegani who has died, aged 90. His performances on Tehran's 'Radio Golha Programmes' between 1953 and 1979 helped popularise traditional Persian music, but his career stalled after the Islamic Revolution when, like many artists, he was forced into silence. Faraj Balafkan has been covering the story for BBC Persian. Freeing Luis Díaz Sr: Colombia and the ELN It's a week since the father of Liverpool FC player Luis Díaz was handed over by Colombian guerrilla group the ELN after being held for twelve days. BBC Monitoring in Miami's Luis Fajardo is Colombian, and explains what the story reveals about the difficult situation in Columbia right now. Tree planting in Kenya Kenyan's were granted a special tree-planting holiday on Monday as part of a government initiative to plant 15 billion trees over ten years. BBC Africa journalist Kenneth Mungai spent some time at a site near the river Athi meeting residents involved in the project. (Photo: A white-tailed eagle. Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)


A lifeline for Gaza

Presented by Andrea Kennedy BBC Arabic has begun an emergency radio service for Gaza in response to the conflict in the region. Adel Soliman tells us about providing news and information, and also key lifeline advice on access to medical care, food and water. The floating duck farms of Bangladesh Low-lying farmland in north east Bangladesh is flooded every year during the monsoon, and local people used to survive by fishing as well as farming. But climate change and over-fishing have ruined their livelihoods, and, as BBC Bangla's Shahnewaj Rocky found out, many have turned to duck farming instead. Theatre in wartime Russia The war in Ukraine has dealt a severe blow to Russia’s rich theatrical scene. Directors, actors, playwrights, choreographers and musicians have been sacked for opposing the war, and many theatre professionals have left the country. Amaliya Zatari of BBC Russian tells us about the impact. China's Belt and Road, 10 years on Ten years after China unveiled its Belt and Road Initiative, creating energy, industry and transport projects across the world, Chen Yan of BBC Chinese tells us about its successes and failures. We also get the perspective from Central Asia, from Akbarjon Musaev of BBC Monitoring. (Photo: A man holds a portable radio receiver in the southern Gaza Strip on October 31 2023. Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)


What's happening in Ukraine?

Presented by Irena Taranyuk The intense focus of the world’s media on events in the Middle East has taken attention away from the war in Ukraine. We ask what's the latest on the war, and what important stories are being reported from the region? Answers from Diana Kuryshko of BBC Ukrainian and Vitaliy Shevchenko, Russia editor at BBC Monitoring and co-presenter of Ukrainecast. Factories versus fishermen: the story of Rempang Island A small Indonesian island off Sumatra has been in the news because of a threat to evict local residents to make way for industrial development. Villagers on Rempang Island mostly make a living from fishing, and they have been protesting against the plan. BBC Indonesian's Astudestra Ajengrastri went to Rempang Island to investigate. Pakistan bump shaming Pictures of the cute babies of celebrities are popular on social media in Pakistan. But it seems Pakistanis are not so keen on images of the previous stage: pregnancy. Women have been trolled or banned from the screen for proudly showing their fully-covered baby bumps. BBC Urdu's Shumaila Khan has been asking why this is so shocking. Pre-hispanic Latin America Gender equality, tolerance of same-sex relations, no extreme poverty and sustainable lifestyles: these are all areas in which indigenous cultures in Latin America were ahead of their time, according to research done by BBC Mundo. It's a story which really caught the imagination of the Spanish-speaking audience - reporter Jose Carlos Cueto tells us more. (Photo: A resident is seen after shelling in the Ukrainian frontline city of Avdiivka on October 17, 2023. Credit: Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu via Getty Images)


Meet the BBC Korean team in Seoul

The Fifth Floor visits the BBC's Seoul Bureau to meet the journalists working for BBC Korean, serving audiences across the whole of the Korean peninsula, with different output for both North and South Korea. Journalists David Oh, Hyunjung Kim and Yuna Ku talk about the stories they've been working on for the domestic audience, from the growing global interest in Korean popular culture to what divides, and unites, Koreans. They also broadcast a daily radio programme to North Korea. Editor Woongbee Lee and journalist Rachel Lee explain how they keep this largely unknown audience informed about worldwide news, as well as stories about their own country unreported by their state broadcasters. And on the first anniversary of the Itaewon Halloween tragedy in which 159 people became trapped in huge crowds and died, unable to breathe, we hear from Jungmin Choi who filmed on the scene in the days after the disaster, and Yuna Ku, who is working on stories to mark the anniversary, about the victims' families' fight for justice. (Photo: Faranak Amidi and BBC Korean editor Woongbee Lee in central Seoul. Credit: BBC)


Israel Gaza conflict: the war of words

With constant new developments in Israel and Gaza, we find out how BBC Monitoring is reporting and analysing news from the heart of the conflict. Joel Greenberg from the team in Jerusalem tells us about the war of words between Israeli and Palestinian media; Kian Sharifi analyses what’s being said on Iranian state media and social media; and Alex Wright has been looking at online jihadist sources to see how they are exploiting the conflict. Feeling the heat in Brazil Parts of Brazil have just come through an intense heatwave and are braced for another – and it’s not even the summer season yet. For BBC Brasil, Julia Braun has been to two contrasting neighbourhoods in Sao Paulo to see how differently the heat is experienced, according to where you live. Dars - the BBC's distance learning for children in Afghanistan As a result of the Taliban exclusion of girls aged over 11 from education in Afghanistan, BBC Afghan decided to bring the classroom to their homes. Dars - which means lessons - is a multi-platform series in Pashto and Dari, and a second season has just been launched. We find out more from producer Mariam Aman. The return from the brink of Kazakhstan's saiga antelope The rare saiga antelope of Kazakhstan has turned into a success story - and caused a headache for farmers. Twenty years ago, numbers were critically low, but a successful rehabilitation programme has led to a population of close to two and a half million. Now the animals are moving onto farmland in search of food, and farmers are complaining. Elbek Daniyarov of BBC Monitoring shares the story. (Photo: A map of the Gaza Strip under a magnifying glass. Credit: Pawel.Gaul/Getty Images)


Reporting the Israel Gaza conflict

A week after the attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, we look at how some of the BBC’s major language services have been covering the conflict for their audiences, with William Marquez from BBC Mundo, Zubair Ahmed from BBC Delhi and Daniel Dadzie from the Focus on Africa podcast team. Banking and slavery in Brazil Brazil’s oldest bank, the Banco do Brasil, is facing a public inquiry into its alleged involvement in the slave trade during the 19th century. It's been a big story for BBC Brasil, and editor Caio Quero tells us it has started a national debate. Indonesia's disappearing mangroves Indonesia's vast mangrove forests are disappearing, with charcoal made from mangrove wood a valued commodity in China, Europe and Japan. Mangrove logging is illegal, but the number of charcoal furnaces continues to grow, as BBC Indonesian's Astudestra Ajengrastri discovered on a visit to the island of Borneo. (Photo: Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on October 12, 2023. Credit: Ibrahim Hams/AFP via Getty Images)


Pakistan and Iran: expelling Afghans

Presented by Sana Safi Millions of Afghans living in Pakistan and Iran are facing growing pressure to return to Afghanistan. In Pakistan, around 1.7 million unauthorised Afghan asylum seekers have been ordered to leave by the end of this month. In Iran, the authorities say there are five million Afghans living without legal status, and forced removals are increasing. We hear from BBC Urdu’s Asif Farooqi and BBC Persian’s Zia Shahreyar about the latest developments. Turkish beach towel revolution Fences, fees for sun loungers and private beach clubs are on the rise in Turkey, and in many tourist areas it's becoming increasingly difficult to find a free place to lay your beach towel. But now some locals are protesting, as Mahmut Hamsici of BBC Turkish explains. Celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's iconic loincloth BBC Indian marked the anniversary of Gandhi's birth this week with a story about the history of his iconic loincloth or dhoti, and why he chose to wear it, as Vandana in Delhi explains. Flappy Bird and beyond: Vietnam's gaming industry Vietnam today has become a regional hub for game app development, spurred on by the success of Flappy Bird, which 10 years ago took the world by storm. Thuong Le from BBC Vietnamese is a gaming fan, and tells us about the growth of the homegrown games development industry. Sudan's all-female rap group BBC Arabic's Sarah Magdy took her personal interest in conflict rap to report a story for their culture show about Sudan's first all-female rap group, 249 Gang. (Photo: Afghan families on the road in Pakistan's Khyber district, returning to Afghanistan. Credit: Abdul Majeed/AFP via Getty Images)


Venezuela's extraordinary prison raid

Last week Venezuela sent 11,000 troops into the notorious Tocorón jail to retake control. For years it's been run by inmates, and was headquarters to the international crime organisation, the "Aragua Train", although its leader, Héctor Guerrero, escaped. BBC Mundo's Valentina Oropeza shares insights into the story and the prison, which boasted a pool, nightclub and even a mini-zoo. Esports at the Asian games The 19th Asian Games kicked off in the Chinese city of Hangzhou last Saturday. Esports made its debut as a medal winning event, and the high price tickets in the space-age stadium rapidly sold out. BBC Chinese Zhijie Shao sheds light on esports, and some of the regional geopolitics also on display. Lebanon's celebration gun deaths An average of 8 people a year are killed in Lebanon by stray bullets from celebratory gunfire, and despite widespread calls to end this deadly ritual, many seem unwilling to leave their guns behind for big events. Carine Torbey of BBC Arabic has been looking into the causes and social significance of this problem. Syrian single mums in Turkey Turkey has the world’s largest refugee population with an estimated 3.3 million Syrians living there. Attitudes to them have shifted, and many now face outright hostility from Turks wanting them gone. BBC Turkish journalist Fundanur Öztürk recently reported on the sexual harassment facing Syrian single mothers in this hostile environment. Gurkhas in the Indian Army For decades, Nepal has allowed its Gurkha soldiers to join the Indian army under a special agreement. The tradition has been passed down through the generations, but since India unilaterally changed its contracts to a short 4 year term the Nepali government has paused recruitment, as the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan explains. (Photo: An armored vehicle drives near the Tocorón prison, Aragua State, Venezuela. Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP)