BBC Os Conversations


20210904How major news stories are affecting the lives of people around the world
20210911How major news stories are affecting the lives of people around the world
20210918How major news stories are affecting the lives of people around the world
Afghanistan2021081420210815 (WS)The Taliban is advancing towards Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as foreign forces prepare to fully withdraw from the country. Thousands of people are being displaced and many more are fearful about what lies ahead.

Reporting the news in the country can result in death threats and loss of life, and host Nuala McGovern hears from Afghan journalists who are determined to continue working despite the dangers, including losing colleagues.

Two women also share their fears for the future, concerned that their rights will go back two decades to a time, when women were not allowed to work or leave the house without an escort. “Every night I have personally nightmares,” one said. “Nightmares of the Taliban coming or killing you and the next morning, when you get up, you feel like you’re so exhausted.”

(Photo: People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait to cross the border after it was reopened at Chaman, Pakistan, 13 August 2021. Credit: AKHTER GULFAM/EPA)

Afghans who fear for the future of their country

Chaos In Afghanistan20210828Despite terror warnings, Afghans continued to gather at Kabul’s airport, desperate to get onto a plane. What was feared, and what is sadly familiar in Afghanistan, happened: bomb blasts brought further devastation.

Around 100,000 people have been flown out of the country though since the Taliban takeover. We hear stories from two women who have been at the airport and managed to get a flight. They relate the mixed feelings of saying farewell to family.

Many Afghans have been left behind: two students in Kabul and Herat share their fears about being unable to continue their education at present. For one, an encounter with a member of the Taliban on the streets brought both physical and mental pain.

Host Nuala McGovern also considers the potential impact on society with the Taliban in power as she connects two sportswomen, who have represented their country. They share their concerns about the future of female footballers and athletes in Afghanistan.

(Photo: Afghans struggle to reach the foreign forces to show their credentials to flee the country outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 26 August 2021. Credit: EPA/AKHTER GULFAM)

We hear from people who left the country and those who stayed

How major news stories are affecting the lives of people around the world

Coronavirus: England Unlocking2021071720210718 (WS)England is about to do what no country has done before during the coronavirus pandemic: open up in the face of rapidly rising infections, driven by the more transmissible Delta variant. The world is watching to see what happens.

Nearly all remaining Covid restrictions will end on 19th July. It will mean an end to legal requirements on social distancing, no limits on how many people can meet and face coverings will no longer be required by law.

England has high levels of immunity with significant numbers of the population vaccinated. The government’s plan is that this new so-called ‘natural’ wave of infections will be allowed to play itself out without lockdown restrictions. But many experts are warning that it is a gamble. Host Nuala McGovern hears from two doctors working for the National Health Service who share those concerns. One calls it ‘reckless’.

People who were seriously ill from Covid and continue to suffer the effects more than a year later explain why they are worried about the unlocking.

And, with the government saying that now is the time to repair the economic damage, two business owners share their challenges to regain customer confidence. One also explains how cake helped cure a few cases of vaccine hesitancy.

Picture: Shai Greenberg, CEO of Gielly Green, which runs two hair salons in London (Credit: Simon Brown)

Reflecting the conversations ahead of the lifting of legal Covid restrictions

Coronavirus: Face Masks20210703Face coverings have been part of the fight against the spread of the virus in many countries but the debate around them continues.

Israel has been one of the most successful countries in the world in tackling the pandemic but, just days after lifting the requirement of wearing face masks indoors, the restriction was reimposed. The decision was made after a rise in Covid cases due to the Delta variant. We speak to relatives Adam and Lee, who have seven children between them. They discuss how they feel about being told to wear face masks once more and whether they will continue to do so inside the family home.

We also hear from two students in Italy about their feelings now that they are allowed to go outdoors without a face mask for the first time since October 2020.

Meanwhile, Russia is dealing with a third wave of the virus. Two residents in Moscow discuss the tighter restrictions in places like bars and restaurants, together with the push to get more people vaccinated.

(Photo: A woman holds a protective face mask. Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich/File Photo)

We hear from Israel, Italy and Russia as the debate around mask-wearing continues

Coronavirus: Getting Covid After Vaccination20210529Vaccines are seen as a way out of the coronavirus pandemic; a way to stop transmission and have fewer patients in hospital. Host Nuala McGovern shares different experiences of vaccination and hospitalisation.

For some who have been vaccinated, infection is still possible, but hospitalisation is expected to be less likely. Two guests describe their reactions to getting a positive test, after having Covid jabs, and how the virus affected them.

We consider too those who are hesitant about the Covid vaccine, despite the dangers of catching the disease. We hear what led to a change of mind and agreement to get vaccinated.

And covid patients, who had been treated in hospital for several months, tell us how the mental toll and isolation at times was as challenging as their physical symptoms.

(Photo: A Tunisian teacher receives the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, 25 May 2021. Credit: EPA/Mohamed Messara.)

Two people talk about how they got Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated.

Coronavirus: Refusing The Vaccine2021071020210711 (WS)Official figures suggest the global death toll from Covid 19 now exceeds four million with the virus proliferating in Asia, Africa and South America, where fewer people have been vaccinated.

Host James Reynolds brings three doctors together from Namibia, Bangladesh and Russia, which are among the countries struggling to deal with second and third waves of infections. They describe the constant challenge on the hospital wards and highlight the impact of vaccine hesitancy among patients.

Indonesia is seeing record numbers of infections due to the highly contagious Delta variant. Hospitals are under increasing pressure. Some are running out of vital supplies. Consequently, some Indonesians are having to personally source oxygen, hospital beds and treatment for loved ones who are ill with Covid-19. Two Indonesians tell us about the searches for these supplies for their sick relatives - with different outcomes.

Experts say vaccines offer a path out of this pandemic - yet suspicion, hesitancy and refusal remains. The UK is among the global leaders for vaccination rates and one British man tell us why he refused to take a vaccine and almost died from Covid. We reunite him with the doctor who saved his life.

(Photo: Abderrahmane Fadi, who was hospitalised with Covid-19 after refusing the vaccine. Credit: Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

We hear from countries struggle with vaccine hesitancy among their populations

Coronavirus: Survivor's Guilt20210626Worldwide almost four million people have now died from Covid-19. For each individual who has lost a loved one, each statistic is a deeply personal experience.

The disease has not just attacked our physical health, it has also had a mental impact - whether from anxiety, depression or loneliness. We hear from three people from Nepal, South Africa and the United States who are all dealing with survivor’s guilt. Suswopna, in Kathmandu, responded by setting up a Facebook support group. Douglas, in Durban, is coping with the recent death of his fiancé and wishes he could have done more to help. Paul, in Illinois, is trying to overcome his guilt at not being at his father’s bedside when he died.

Some African countries are currently undergoing a third wave of infections. Host Karnie Sharp hears from three doctors - in Namibia, Uganda and South Africa - about the challenges they are facing.

(Photo: A woman is consoled by her relative after her husband died from Covid-19 outside a hospital in Ahmedabad, India. Credit: Amit Dave/Reuters)

We hear how some Covid-19 survivors are struggling with guilt

Coronavirus: The Olympics20210605The Olympic Games now look certain to go ahead in Japan in July. However, some people in the country are against holding the event, as it tackles a fourth wave of coronavirus cases, low vaccination and the extension of a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas. Two doctors in Tokyo share their observations, experiences and concerns.

As some countries, including Japan, struggle to vaccinate older members of their populations, host Nuala McGovern also hears from two 12-year-olds in Canada and the United States. They were among the first children in the world to receive a Covid vaccine. They discuss, along with their parents, what it’s like to receive the vaccine when there are so many people at greater risk in other countries still waiting for a jab.

(Photo: A giant Olympic rings monument is seen at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: EPA/Franck Robichon)

Doctors in Tokyo discuss their concerns about the Olympics going ahead in July

Extreme Weather2021073120210801 (WS)In recent weeks the world has seen floods in Europe and China and devastating wildfires in Canada, the United States and Siberia. It’s difficult to link single events to global warming but climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events.

Host Nuala McGovern hears from those affected by flooding in Germany and Belgium as well as people in the city of Zhengzhou, in Henan, China, which recently recorded the equivalent of a year’s average rainfall in just three days.

A couple who escaped with their lives from a wildfire in Oregon, in the US, but lost their home also share why they’ve decided to leave the state for good. And one woman in British Columbia, Canada, explains why she’s decided to stay in her home and fight the fire.

Plus, climate experts in South East Asia, Europe and the United States discuss the seriousness of the situation and why nature may be the best solution to the effects of extreme weather.

(Photo: Firefighter silhouetted against orange flames and glow of the Bootleg fire, Oregon, July 22, 2021. Credit: NWCG / US Forest Service)

We hear from people affected by floods and wildfires

Israel And Gaza20210522After 11 days of conflict, a ceasefire has been agreed between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The violence in that time killed more than 250 people, most of them in Gaza.

During this past week, host Nuala McGovern has been hearing conversations from both Palestinians and Israelis about what it has been like to be living under bombardment. They talk about their lives and hopes for the future.

Among those she talks to are two women in their twenties in Gaza and also two Jewish women in the Israeli city of Lod, where a state of emergency was declared. They each share the emotional and mental toll from what they have witnessed.

(Photo: A Palestinian woman reacts after returning to her destroyed house following Israel- Hamas truce, in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, 21 May, 2021. Credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

People on both sides describe the impact of the Israel-Gaza conflict on their lives

Life In Iran20210612As Iran prepares to hold its presidential election to select a replacement for Hassan Rouhani, BBC Persian presenter Rana Rahimpour brings together Iranians, both in the country and living abroad, to hear about their lives and thoughts.

Three young Iranians discuss what it’s like to live in a country where many people want to leave and need two jobs to make ends meet. Plus two sisters - one in London and the other still living in Iran with their parents - discuss the emotional difficulties of separation.

Rana will also be joined by her colleagues from the BBC Persian Service for their analysis on the country’s history and the forthcoming election.

(Photo: Iranian women wait for a Taxi next to a poster depicting Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi in a street in Tehran, Iran, 09 June 2021. Iranians will vote in a presidential election on 18 June 2021. Credit: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA)

We bring together Iranians to discuss their lives and future prospects

Olympic Golden Moments2021080720210808 (WS)The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were always going to be different. They took place a year later than planned and were the first to be held during a pandemic, with fans banned. So as the Games come to an end, host James Reynolds hears the experiences of three gold medallists: Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus; triathlete Flora Duffy, who won Bermuda’s first ever gold medal; and Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim. He delighted the world when he shared that coveted top spot with Italian counterpart Gianmarco Tamberi.

Italy enjoyed an incredible few hours in Japan’s National Stadium and Viviana Masini reveals her son’s challenging childhood that ultimately put him on a path to become the fastest man on the planet, Lamont Marcell Jacobs was also the first Italian to claim the men’s 100 metres Olympic gold.

We also hear from residents in Tokyo. Two of them explain their change of heart about holding the Games in the capital. Meanwhile, the pandemic remains an emergency and two doctors in the city discuss the latest rise in Covid rates.

(Photo: Gold medallists, Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar wearing protective face masks celebrate on the podium. Credit: Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

We speak to athletes who won gold at the Tokyo Games

The Tokyo Olympics2021072420210725 (WS)A year later than planned, due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are underway. Yet Covid cases in the capital are rising, and a recent poll showed that 55% of people in Japan were opposed to the Games being held in Tokyo with fears that it could become a super spreader event.

For the athletes, it’s business as usual, albeit under extraordinary circumstances. Host Nuala McGovern hears from 19 year old US-born Joseph Fahnbulleh, who is representing Liberia on the athletics track in the 200 metres race; and Mary Hanna who has competed in five previous Olympics as part of the Australian equestrian team. At 66 years old, she is the oldest athlete at the Games and gives Joe some invaluable advice. They also discuss how the pandemic has affected training - for better and worse - and how they feel about competing during a pandemic.

Plus, we hear from three volunteers and discover why one of them had a last minute change of heart, and three residents in Tokyo share their thoughts and concerns about the arrival of thousands of athletes and delegates coming to their city.

(Photo: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Basketball 3x3 Training - Aomi Urban Sports Park, Tokyo, Japan - July 22, 2021 Stephanie Mawuli of Japan during training. Credit: Andrew Boyers/Reuters)

The Tokyo Olympics are underway, a year late than planned

Trying To Flee Afghanistan20210821As the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, there has been much international focus on the thousands who are attempting to leave the country, fearful for their safety. During the 20-year conflict, some Afghans worked as translators, interpreters and support staff with international armies and foreign organisations. Taliban officials have been keen to allay widespread safety fears but reports suggest the militant group are intensifying their hunt for such residents. Some of those who are afraid managed to immediately relocate to other countries, but many who want to leave find themselves stuck in their homes or their access to the airport prevented.

Hosts Karnie Sharp and Nuala McGovern hear from three Afghan interpreters who fear for their lives, as well as military veterans in the US and the UK concerned for the Afghan soldiers and police they once worked alongside.

We also hear from one woman who arrived in the United States just two days before the capital Kabul fell to the Taliban. Her family remains in Afghanistan and she relates the emotional conversations she has over the telephone with her sister.

(Photo: Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan August 18, 2021. Picture taken August 18, 2021. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo)

We hear from people desperate to leave Afghanistan

How major news stories are affecting the lives of people around the world

Women In Iran20210619Iran has voted for a new president and BBC Persian Service presenter, Rana Rahimpour, hears from different women in conversation on what life is like in the country. Three young women, including one 17-year-old, join Rana to discuss their fears, frustrations and hopes for the future.

A pharmacist and doctor share their experiences in two hospitals after the country underwent a fourth wave of infections. They describe the long days and the financial challenges in the health sector, including the relatively low pay. Rana is also joined by two of her colleagues from BBC Persian to discuss the difficulties of reporting on your homeland from thousands of miles away in London.

(Photo: Iranian women take a selfie at a park in Tehran, Iran May 26, 2021. Credit: Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS)

Three young Iranian women discuss their lives, their families and their futures.