Crossing Continents

Episodes

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A Fight For Light In Lebanon2019121220191216 (R4)

Life in Lebanon is a daily battle to beat the power cuts caused by the country's chronic electricity shortage. If you live in a block of flats, you have to time when you go in and out to avoid getting trapped in the lift. Food goes bad because fridges don't work, families must often choose between air-conditioning and watching TV, and those on life-support machines live in constant fear of a switch-off.
But if it's hell for citizens, it's heaven for operators of illegal private generators who profit by filling the gap left by the failures of the national grid. Some are former warlords who led militias in Lebanon's civil war. They're given an unofficial licence to operate, often in return for favours to the authorities in Lebanon's chaotic and often corrupt sectarian system.
Now a huge protest movement is demanding change in Lebanon - and a constant power supply is one of the demonstrators' main demands. They want to break the power of the "fuel mafia" that imports diesel for the generators and has close links to the country's leading politicians. For them, the fight for light is a fight against corruption. But can Lebanon's feeble state ever manage to turn all the lights on?
Reporter: Tim Whewell
Producer: Anna Meisel

Life in Lebanon is a daily battle to beat the power cuts. Now people have had enough.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Insight, and analysis from BBC correspondents around the world

A Stark Choice For Cambodia's Surrogates2018112920181203 (R4)

In a Cambodian hospital, a group of terrified new mothers nurse tiny babies under the watch of police guards. They're surrogates, desperately poor women promised $10,000 to bear children for parents in China. But they were arrested under new anti-trafficking rules, and now they face an agonising choice: either they agree to keep children they didn't want and can't easily afford to bring up, children who aren't genetically theirs - or they honour their surrogacy contracts, and face up to 20 years in jail. Tim Whewell reports on the suffering as country after country in Asia cracks down on commercial surrogacy - and asks whether the detained mothers are criminals - or victims.

Locked up for renting out their wombs, mothers in Cambodia must make an agonising choice.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Abandoned In The Amazon2019050920190513 (R4)

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

The dangers of flying in the great wilderness of the Brazilian rainforest. When a light aircraft carrying two families from a local Indian tribe disappeared over the Amazon in December, relatives scoured the rainforest for weeks until hunger and sickness forced them to give up. The Brazilian authorities ignored appeals for an official ground search – just as they’ve ignored appeals over many years to regulate local flights in the Amazon. Without air traffic control, pilots must fly clandestinely – making already-hazardous travel between the tiny landing strips even more dangerous. Now, Brazil has a new right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has spoken out against the communal rights of indigenous people – and, as Tim Whewell reports, tribal leaders fear the failure to find the missing plane may be a sign of growing official indifference to their needs. Producer in Brazil, Jessica Cruz.

(Image: Before the tragedy - Jeziel Barbosa de Moura, pilot of the vanished plane, minutes before he took off on the doomed flight. Credit: Family archive)

America's Hospital Emergency2019080120190805 (R4)

A small town goes on life-support after its lone hospital closes. The story of Jamestown, Tennessee, recorded in the emotional hours and days after its 85-bed facility shut. Rural hospitals are closing across the United States, leaving patients dangerously exposed. Can Jamestown buck the trend and reopen?
Produced and presented by Neal Razzell.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

A small town goes on life-support after its lone hospital closes. The story of Jamestown, Tennessee, recorded in the emotional hours and days after its 85-bed facility shut. Rural hospitals are closing across the United States, leaving patients dangerously exposed. Can Jamestown buck the trend and reopen?
Produced and presented by Neal Razzell.

Armenia Firefighters2018122720181231 (R4)

Thirty years on from the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, what’s happened to the devastated town of Spitak? Rescuers from all over the world came to help search for survivors – among them a team of British firefighters. Now, with reporter Tim Whewell, two of those men are returning - to see how the town’s been rebuilt - and to remember a rescue effort that marked a turning point in East-West relations. The disaster came as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was developing his policy of glasnost (openness) – and his request for foreign assistance was the first such appeal the Kremlin had made in decades. The firefighters relive the drama, grief and courage of those days – and renew old friendships. They discover that Spitak has still not fully recovered from the quake, with many living to this day in squalid temporary housing.

Reporter Tim Whewell.

International current affairs documentary series

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Armenia: Return To A Town That Died2018122720181231 (R4)

Thirty years on from the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, what’s happened to the devastated town of Spitak? Rescuers from all over the world came to help search for survivors – among them a team of British firefighters. Now, with reporter Tim Whewell, two of those men are returning - to see how the town’s been rebuilt - and to remember a rescue effort that marked a turning point in East-West relations. The disaster came as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was developing his policy of glasnost (openness) – and his request for foreign assistance was the first such appeal the Kremlin had made in decades. The firefighters relive the drama, grief and courage of those days – and renew old friendships. They discover that Spitak has still not fully recovered from the quake, with many living to this day in squalid temporary housing.

Reporter Tim Whewell.

Two British firefighters revisit the scene of Armenia's devastating earthquake in 1988.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Ayahuasca: Fear And Healing In The Amazon2020011620200120 (R4)

More and more tourists are travelling to the Peruvian Amazon to take ayahuasca, a traditional plant medicine said to bring about a higher state of consciousness. Foreigners come looking for spiritual enlightenment or help with mental health problems like trauma, depression, and addiction. But when Olivia Arévalo, a highly-regarded ayahuasca healer, was shot dead in 2018, light was thrown on a growing tension around the sacred medicine’s rising popularity. Her alleged killer - later lynched by a mob of locals - was a Canadian who had come to the region to take ayahuasca. Some locals saw Olivia’s death as an example of the malign influence of the commercialisation and globalisation of ayahuasca. Now a group of indigenous healers from Olivia’s Shipibo people are fighting back against what they see as the exploitation of their cultural heritage by foreigners - who run most of the ayahuasca retreats popular with tourists. This coming together of cultures has thrown up another serious problem too: vulnerable women being sexually abused while under the influence of charismatic healers and this powerful psychedelic.

Presenter: Simon Maybin
Producer: Josephine Casserly

Psychedelic plants, the spiritual tourism backlash - and sexual abuse.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Balkan Border Wars - Serbia And Kosovo2019011020190114 (R4)

Old enemies Serbia and Kosovo discuss what for some is unthinkable - an ethnic land swap. This dramatic proposal is one of those being talked about as a means of normalising relations between these former foes. Since the bloody Kosovo war ended with NATO intervention in 1999, civility between Belgrade and Pristina has been in short supply. Redrawing borders along ethnic lines is anathema to many, but politicians in Serbia and Kosovo have their eyes on a bigger prize... For Serbia, that is membership of the European Union. But the EU will not accept Serbia until it makes an accommodation with its neighbour. Kosovo wants to join the EU too, but its immediate priority is recognition at the United Nations, and that is unlikely while Serbia's ally, Russia, continues to thwart Kosovo's ambitions there. Both of these Balkan nations want to exit this impasse. And a land-swap, giving each of them much-coveted territory, might just do it. For Crossing Continents, Linda Pressly and producer, Albana Kasapi, visit the two regions at the heart of the proposal - the ethnically Albanian-majority Presevo Valley in Serbia, and the mostly Serb region north of Mitrovica in Kosovo.

(PHOTO: Hevzi Imeri, an ethnic Albanian and Danilo Dabetic, a Serb, play together at the basketball club Play 017 in Bujanovac – one of very few mixed activities for young people in Serbia’s Presevo Valley. BBC photo.)

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Bangladesh Versus Yaba2019042520190429 (R4)

Thousands of Bangladeshi addicts are hooked on Yaba - a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine. It's a powerful drug that gives big bangs for small bucks. The Yaba epidemic has ripped through the population of Bangladesh, urban and rural, poor, middle-class and rich. This is a drug that's manufactured in industrial quantities in the jungles of neighbouring Myanmar. As the economy of Bangladesh has boomed, drug lords have worked to create new markets for their product. And the Rohingya crisis - when nearly a million fled Myanmar for Bangladesh - has created further opportunities for the traffickers, as desperate refugees have been employed as drug mules. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, declared a 'war on drugs' last May. Thousands have been arrested. But critics see a disturbing trend - hundreds of suspected Yaba dealers have been killed by law enforcement.

Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly with Morshed Ali Khan

Thousands of Bangladeshi addicts are hooked on Yaba, a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Barbuda: Storms, Recovery And \u2018land Grabs'2019081520190819 (R4)

Who will shape the future of the hurricane-hit, tropical isle of Barbuda? In 2017, category-5 hurricane Irma devastated much of Barbuda's 'paradise' landscape, and its infrastructure. The national government – based on the larger, neighbouring island of Antigua – evacuated the population of some 1800 people. But within days, although the people weren’t allowed to return, bulldozers were clearing ancient forest to build an international airport. Critics called this another case of, 'disaster capitalism' – governments and business taking advantage of catastrophe to make a profit.

Barbuda has long been viewed as ripe for more tourism – Hollywood actor Robert De Niro is part of a commercial enterprise working on the opening of an exclusive resort. One of the obstacles to widespread development has been the island’s unique system of tenure – all land has been held in common since the emancipation of Barbuda’s slave population in the 19th century. But last year the government repealed the law guaranteeing those communal rights, partly to attract investment to the island. Meanwhile, although the hurricane season began on June 1st, families are still living in tents.

With the main opportunity to earn revenue coming from tourism, the national government is thoroughly irked by Barbudans' resistance to profit from top-dollar visitors. It argues that projects can be environmentally-friendly. But in the wake of Irma, the impact of climate change hangs heavily on Barbuda. How can this pristine island preserve its future and still develop the economy?

Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Who will shape the future of the hurricane-hit, tropical isle of Barbuda? In 2017, category-5 hurricane Irma devastated much of Barbuda’s ‘paradise’ landscape, and its infrastructure. The national government – based on the larger, neighbouring island of Antigua – evacuated the population of some 1800 people. But within days, although the people weren’t allowed to return, bulldozers were clearing ancient forest to build an international airport. Critics called this another case of, ‘disaster capitalism’ – governments and business taking advantage of catastrophe to make a profit.

Barbuda has long been viewed as ripe for more tourism – Hollywood actor, Robert De Niro, is part of a commercial enterprise working on the opening of an exclusive resort. One of the obstacles to widespread development has been the island’s unique system of tenure – all land has been held in common since the emancipation of Barbuda’s slave population in the 19th century. But last year the government repealed the law guaranteeing those communal rights, partly to attract investment to the island. Meanwhile, although the hurricane season began on June 1st, families are still living in tents.

With the main opportunity to earn revenue coming from tourism, the national government is thoroughly irked by Barbudans’ resistance to profit from top-dollar visitors. It argues that projects can be environmentally-friendly. But in the wake of Irma, the impact of climate change hangs heavily on Barbuda. How can this pristine island preserve its future and still develop the economy?

Belarus: The Wild World Of Chernobyl2020010920200113 (R4)

90 year old Galina is one of the last witnesses to the wild natural world that preceded the Chernobyl zone in southern Belarus. 'We lived with wolves' she says 'and moose, and elk and wild boars.' Soviet development destroyed that ecosystem. Forests and marshland were tamed and laid to farmland and industrial use. But when the Chernobyl reactor exploded in 1986, the human population was evacuated; their villages were buried beneath the earth as though they had never existed. A generation on, it seems that the animals Galina knew are returning. But how are they are affected by their radioactive environment? And what can we infer about the state of the land? Monica Whitlock visits the strange new wilderness emerging in the heart of Europe.

Produced and Presented by Monica Whitlock
Editor, Bridget Harney

'We lived with wolves' says 90 year old Galina - a witness to life before Chernobyl.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Bolivia's Mennonites, Justice And Renewal2019051620190520 (R4)

In 2009, Mennonite women in a far-flung Bolivian colony reported mass rape. Now leaders of this insular Christian community with its roots in Europe are campaigning to free the convicted men. More than 100 women and children were attacked in the colony of Manitoba, and their courage in telling their stories secured penalties of 25 years for the rapists. But within Mennonite circles, doubts continue to be aired about the imprisonment of the men. They too protest their innocence, claiming their initial confessions in Manitoba were forced under threat of torture. The culture of abuse in the old colonies – physical and sexual – has often been commented on. And, as Linda Pressly reports, it’s partly this that gave the impetus for the foundation of one of Bolivia’s newest Mennonite communities. Hacienda Verde has been hacked out of virgin forest, and is home to 45 families. These are people who were excommunicated in their old colony homes, often because they rejected the harsh rules of conservative Mennonites – rules that govern every facet of life, from the clothes and hairstyles that are allowed, to the rejection of any kind of technology.

Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly

(Photo: Bolivia Mennonite colony, Belice, Girl at school. Photo Credit: @jordibusque)

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

In 2009, Mennonite women in a far-flung Bolivian colony reported mass rape. Now leaders of this insular Christian community with its roots in Europe are campaigning to free the convicted men. More than 100 women and children were attacked in the colony of Manitoba, and their courage in telling their stories secured penalties of 25 years for the rapists. But within Mennonite circles, doubts continue to be aired about the imprisonment of the men. They too protest their innocence, claiming their initial confessions in Manitoba were forced under threat of torture. The culture of abuse in the old colonies – physical and sexual – has often been commented on. And it’s partly this that gave the impetus for the foundation of one of Bolivia’s newest Mennonite communities. Hacienda Verde has been hacked out of virgin forest, and is home to 45 families. These are people who were excommunicated in their old colony homes, often because they rejected the harsh rules of conservative Mennonites – rules that govern every facet of life, from the clothes and hairstyles that are allowed, to the rejection of any kind of technology.

China's Hidden Camps2018121320181217 (R4)

China is accused of locking up as many as a million Uighur Muslims without trial across its western region of Xinjiang. The government denies the claims, saying people willingly attend special "vocational schools" to combat "terrorism and religious extremism". But a BBC investigation has found important new evidence of the reality - a vast and rapidly growing network of detention centres, where the people held inside are humiliated and abused. Using detailed satellite analysis and reporting from a part of the country where journalists are routinely detained and harassed; China correspondent John Sudworth offers his in-depth report on China's Hidden Camps.

The BBC gains rare access to a region of China where Muslims are being held without trial.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Colombia's Kamikaze Cyclists2019091220190916 (R4)

Precipitous mountain roads, specially modified bikes, and deadly consequences. Simon Maybin spends time with the young men who race down the steep roads of Colombia’s second city Medellin. Marlon is 16 and he’s a gravitoso - a gravity biker. He hooks onto the back of lorries or buses climbing the precipitous roads to reach high points around the city. Then, he lets gravity do its thing and - without any safety gear - hurtles back down the roads, trying to dodge the traffic. This year, two of his friends have died gravity biking and Marlon has had a near-fatal accident. But he’s not quitting. So what drives young men like him to take their lives into their own hands? And what’s being done to stop more deaths? Produced and presented by Simon Maybin.

Simon Maybin spends time with the young men who race down the steep roads of Colombia.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Dna, Me And The Family Tree2018122020181224 (R4)

Where do you come from? Tracing your ancestry in the USA is one of the most popular hobbies along with gardening and golf. TV is awash with advertising for the do-it-yourself genetic testing kits which have become much sought after gifts, especially at Christmas time. The kits have revolutionised family tree research and gone are the days of sifting through old documents. But, as Lucy Ash reports, the DNA results are now revealing far more than many had bargained for. How do you react when you find out your mother had a secret affair half a century ago…and the man who raised you isn’t your dad? Produced by Charlotte McDonald.

How home DNA testing kits are revealing more than some people bargained for.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Empty Spain And The Caravans Of Love2019050220190506 (R4)

How does a lonely, Spanish shepherd find love when single women have left for the city? Antonio Cerrada lives north of Madrid, in the heart of what’s been nicknamed the, ‘Lapland of Spain’ because its population density is so low. With only a handful of families left in his village, and people continuing to leave for the cities, Antonio struggled to find a partner. Then Maria Carvajal arrived. She came in a bus full of single women – a ‘caravana’ - to attend an organised party with men like Antonio.
The Caravans of Women - or Caravans of Love as they are known - began as a response to Spain’s epic story of rural depopulation. More than half the country is at risk, and in nearly 600 municipalities there isn’t one resident under the age of 10. But as Linda Pressly finds out, there are many initiatives now to reverse the decline of the Spanish countryside, including a movement of young people – the ‘neo-rurales’ – who have begun to occupy abandoned villages.

Presenter and producer: Linda Pressly
Producer in Spain: Esperanza Escribano

(Image: Antonio Cerrada, a shepherd who found love. Credit: BBC, Esperanza Escribano)

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Finland's Race To Go Carbon Neutral2019121920191223 (R4)

How do you achieve net-zero carbon emissions in just fifteen years? In Finland, a fisherman-turned-climate scientist believes he has part of the answer: re-wilding the country’s peat fields. Gabriel Gatehouse travels to the country's frozen north to meet Tero Mustonen, as he battles lobbyists and vested interests in government and the peat industry, in a race to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Michael Gallagher producing.

The Finnish fisherman who believes he has a solution to climate change

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Genoa's Broken Bridge2019080820190812 (R4)

An icon of Italian design; a centrepiece of a community; a tragedy waiting to happen? When the Morandi bridge opened in 1967, it was one of the longest concrete bridges in the world, connecting the port of Genoa with the rest of Italy and Italy with northern Europe. Built during the post-war economic boom, it was the centrepiece of Italy’s plans to modernise its roads and was a proud symbol of the country’s engineering and architectural expertise. But all that came to a tragic end in August last year when a section of the bridge collapsed killing 43 people and leaving 600 people without a home. Helen Grady speaks to people whose lives have been touched by the bridge from the moment it was built to the moment it collapsed. And she asks how such a vital piece of infrastructure, carrying thousands of cars and lorries every day, could be allowed to fail.

Producer Alice Gioia

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Translations by Rachel Johnson, Alice Gioia and Helen Grady

Voiceovers by:
Shaun Mason (Davide Capello)
Gemma Ashman (Mimma Certo)
Greg Jones (Emmanuel Diaz)
Neil Koenig (Remo Calzona)
Jim Frank (Alessandoro Campora)
Jonathan Griffin (Carmelo Gentile)
Will Kirk (Danilo Toninelli)
Andrew Smith (Paolo d'Ovidio)

Iceland: The Great Thaw2019122620191230 (R4)

Iceland's glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate, with scientists predicting that they could all be gone 200 years from now. How is this affecting the lives of local people, and the identity of a nation that has ice in its name?

Maria Margaronis talks to Icelandic farmers and fishermen, scientists and environmental activists about their (sometimes surprising) responses to climate change, and asks why it’s so difficult even for those who see its effects from their windows every day to take in what it means.

Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Iceland's glaciers are melting and scientists predict they could all be gone in 200 years.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Indonesia: Not Cool To Date2020032620200330 (R4)

Saying no to dating is part of a growing ultraconservative social movement in Indonesia being spread through Instagram and WhatsApp. “When I look at couples, I see my old self, how I used to be affectionate in public, holding hands, hugging,” says 23-year-old Yati, “and now I think that’s disgusting.” When Yati broke up with her ex, she didn’t just swear off dating; she joined Indonesia’s anti-dating movement. Its leaders say dating is expensive, gets in the way of study, and - most importantly - is against religious teaching. For Crossing Continents, Simon Maybin discovers it is part of a wider youth-led surge in conservative Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Opponents see the phenomenon as a backwards step for women and a threat to Indonesia’s religious pluralism.

Presenter: Simon Maybin
Producer: Josephine Casserly
Editor: Bridget Harney

Saying no to dating is part of a growing ultraconservative social movement in Indonesia.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Inside Burundi's Killing Machine2018120620181210 (R4)

An investigation into the 'killing machine' of one of Africa's most repressive and secretive countries. Three years ago there was widespread unrest in the East African country of Burundi when the country’s president ran for a third term. Protestors said he was violating the constitution that limits presidential terms to just two. Since then street protests have ended but a BBC investigation has now uncovered evidence of government sponsored torture and killings designed to silence dissent. The government has always denied any human rights violations, and declined to comment on the allegations in this programme. Reporter Maud Jullien. Producers Charlotte Atwood and Michael Gallagher.

*This programme contains graphic scenes of torture and killing.

(Image: A computer generated image of an alleged detention house in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. A red liquid, which looked like blood, was seen pouring from its gutter. Credit: BBC)

An investigation into repression in Burundi, one of Africa's most secretive countries.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Japan's Elderly Crime Wave2019011720190121 (R4)

Elderly pensioners in Japan are committing petty crimes so that they can be sent to prison. One in five of all prisoners in Japan are now over 65. The number has quadrupled in the last two decades, a result it seems of rising elderly poverty and loneliness, as seniors become increasingly cut-off from their over-worked offspring. In jail old people at least get a bed, a routine and a hot meal, and for many, as Ed discovers, the outside world can seem like a threatening place. For the prison authorities it means an increasingly ageing population behind bars and the challenges of dealing with a range of geriatric health issues.

Produced and reported by Ed Butler.

Elderly pensioners in Japan commit petty crimes so that they can be sent to prison.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Kazakhstan: Port In The Desert2019082920190902 (R4)

China’s New Silk Road reaches across all parts of the globe; building roads, bridges and towering cities where before there were none. In Kazakhstan, China’s neighbour to the west, this vast project has created a port. But there’s no water there, just desert… and trains running all the way from China through to Europe and the Middle East. Meeting the hundreds of shoppers and traders, it’s astonishing to think that just a few years ago this border was a closed military zone - the frontier between two giant communist states. But turn the clock back further and we discover this part of Central Asia has always been closely tied to China, in languages, culture and contested history. For Crossing Continents, Rose Kudabayeva returns to her home country Kazakhstan, to meet people living along the New Silk Road and record how their world is changing.

Produced by Monica Whitlock
A BlokMedia production

China's New Silk Road is changing lives in Kazakhstan.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Marawi: The Story Of The Philippines' Lost City2019090520190909 (R4)

Marawi in the southern Philippines is a ghost town. In 2017, it was taken under siege for five months by supporters of Islamic State who wanted to establish a caliphate in the predominantly Muslim city. After a fierce and prolonged battle, the Philippine army regained control – but Marawi was left in ruins. Two years on, reconstruction has barely begun and over 100,000 people are yet to return home.
Philippines Correspondent Howard Johnson tells the story of Marawi from the siege to the present day, through the eyes of two of its residents: a Muslim who risked his life to save his community and a Catholic priest who was held hostage by extremists.

Produced by Josephine Casserly.

Image: Grand Mosque pockmarked by bullet holes and artillery fire in the Most Affected Area (MAA) or Ground Zero of the siege of Marawi
Credit: Howard Johnson/BBC

The Philippine city that was besieged by Islamic State supporters.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Marawi in the southern Philippines is a ghost town. In 2017, it was taken under siege for five months by supporters of Islamic State who wanted to establish a caliphate in the predominantly Muslim region. After a fierce and prolonged battle, the Filipino army regained control – but Marawi was left in ruins. Two years on, reconstruction has barely begun and over 100,000 people are yet to return home. Philippines Correspondent Howard Johnson tells the story of Marawi from the siege to the present day, through the eyes of two of its residents: a Muslim resident who risked his life to save his community and a catholic priest who was held hostage by Islamic State. Produced by Josephine Casserly.

A city of ghosts where people who fled a bloody siege are still fearful of returning to.

Nigeria's Patient 'prisoners'2018112220181126 (R4)

Nigerian patients held in hospital because they can’t pay their medical bills.

In March 2016, a young woman went into labour. She was rushed to a local, private hospital in south-east Nigeria where she gave birth by caesarean section. But when the hospital discovered this teenage mother didn’t have the money to pay for her treatment, she and her son were unable to leave. They remained there for 16 months – until the police arrived and released them.

This is not an isolated case. In Nigeria, very few health services are free of charge, and campaigners estimate that thousands have been detained in hospitals for failing to pay their bills. It’s become an increasingly high-profile issue – one couple have been awarded compensation after going through the courts.

For Crossing Continents, Linda Pressly explores a widespread abuse – meeting victims, and the hospital managers attempting to manage their budgets in a health system under enormous pressure, where only 5% of Nigerians are covered by health insurance.

Producer: Josephine Casserly

(Photo: Ngozi Osegbo was awarded compensation by a court after she and her husband were detained in a hospital because they couldn't pay their medical bills. BBC PHOTO)

Nigerian patients held in hospital because they can't pay their medical bills.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Poland's Partisan Ghosts20190411

For some in Poland the Cursed Soldiers are national heroes; for others they are murderers. A march in celebration of a group of Polish partisans fighting the Soviets has become the focus of tension in a small community in one of Europe’s oldest forests. Those taking part believe the partisans – known as the Cursed Soldiers – were national heroes, but others remember atrocities committed by them 70 years ago. Some partisans were responsible for the burning of villages and the murder of men, women and children in and around Poland’s Bialowieza forest. The people living the forest are Orthodox and Catholic, Belorussian and Polish; this march threatens to revive past divisions between them. Many believe that far-right groups have hijacked this piece of history to further their nationalist agenda. For Crossing Continents, Maria Margaronis visits the forest to find out why this is causing tensions now; why the locals feel the march is making them feel threatened; and how this reflects wider political rifts in Poland today.

Produced by Charlotte McDonald.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Restoring Brazil's National Treasure2019041820190422 (R4)

Brazilians wept when their 200-year-old National Museum went up in flames last September. Twenty million items, many of them irreplaceable, were thought to have been reduced to ash when it was gutted by a massive fire. Staff said the loss to science and history was incalculable - and the tragedy, possibly caused by faulty wiring in the long-underfunded institution, led to much national heart-searching about the country's commitment to its heritage. The museum, housed in Brazil's former Imperial Palace in Rio de Janeiro, held unique collections of fossils, animal specimens, indigenous artefacts, as well as Egyptian and Greek treasures - and the oldest human skull found in the Americas.
Some scientists, who saw their entire life's work go up in flames, were in despair - but others vowed to work to rebuild and restock the museum. Now, months on, painstaking archaeological work in the debris has uncovered items that can be restored, while other specialists are setting out on expeditions to acquire new specimens. Tim Whewell reports from Rio on the agonies - and occasional small triumphs - of the slow, exhausting effort to bring a great national institution back to life.

Can the treasures lost when Brazil's National Museum burnt down be salvaged or replaced?

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Riding the 'Motel 22'20200409

California is one of the wealthiest states in America yet it has the largest population of homeless people – more than 151,000 - in the US. In the Silicon Valley many find shelter on the bus route 22 which runs an endless loop from Palo Alto to the Valley’s biggest city, San Jose. Along the way it passes some of the world’s biggest tech giants: Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packart and Facebook. It is the Valley’s only all night bus and many of its nighttime passengers ride to keep warm and sleep. Now the state is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic many homeless passengers ride the bus during the day to stay off the streets. For Crossing Continents, Sarah Svoboda takes a ride on the bus, known to many as Motel 22, to hear the stories of its travellers.

Reporter/producer: Sarah Svoboda
Editor: Bridget Harney

California's homeless take a ride on the 'Motel 22' - a bus route that provides shelter.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Riding the 'Motel 22'2020040920200413 (R4)

California is one of the wealthiest states in America yet it has the largest population of homeless people – more than 151,000 - in the US. In the Silicon Valley many find shelter on the bus route 22 which runs an endless loop from Palo Alto to the Valley’s biggest city, San Jose. Along the way it passes some of the world’s biggest tech giants: Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packart and Facebook. It is the Valley’s only all night bus and many of its nighttime passengers ride to keep warm and sleep. Now the state is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic many homeless passengers ride the bus during the day to stay off the streets. For Crossing Continents, Sarah Svoboda takes a ride on the bus, known to many as Motel 22, to hear the stories of its travellers.

Reporter/producer: Sarah Svoboda
Editor: Bridget Harney

California's homeless take a ride on the 'Motel 22' - a bus route that provides shelter.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Romania's Killer Roads2019082220190826 (R4)

Everybody in Romania knows someone who has died in a road accident. The country has the highest road death rate in the European Union – twice the EU average and more than three times that in the UK. A young businessman, Stefan Mandachi, has built a metre long stretch of motorway near his home in the rural north-east of the country, as a visual protest against political inaction and corruption. For Crossing Continents, Tessa Dunlop travels to one of Romania’s poorest regions, Moldova, to meet this new champion of road safety, and the families who have paid the highest price for the country’s poor transport networks.
Producer, John Murphy.

Can one man's campaign for motorways in Romania make a difference and save lives?

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Russian Women Fight Back2019112120191125 (R4)

Domestic abuse in Russia is endemic with hundreds maybe thousands of women dying at the hands of their partners every year. Despite this a controversial law was passed in 2017, which scrapped prison sentences for first-time abusers. Beatings that do not cause broken bones or concussion are now treated as administrative offences rather than crimes. As one activist puts it: “the punishment for beating your wife now feels like paying a parking ticket.”

But Russian society is waking up to the crisis. The case of three girls - the Khachaturyan sisters - who face long prison sentences for murdering their tyrannical father, has sparked mass protests. More than 300,000 people have signed an online petition urging prosecutors to drop the murder charges. The girls’ mother tells reporter Lucy Ash that her daughters were acting in self-defence against a man who had abused them physically, emotionally and sexually for years.

Lucy also meets the mother of a woman stabbed to death by her husband who was discovered in her blood soaked bed by her seven year old son. In both cases, the frightened women had appealed to the police but to no avail. These tragedies might have been averted if only the authorities had taken earlier warnings seriously.

In Moscow, Lucy talks to activists who are fighting back by supporting victims, pushing for legal reforms and drawing attention to the cause through art, video games and social media. And she meets a lone feminist MP in the Russian Duma who is trying to bring in restraining orders for violent husbands, boyfriends and family members. Today Russia has no such laws and domestic violence is not a standalone offence in either the criminal or the civil code.

Producers: Josephine Casserly and Albina Kovalyova
Research: Nina Nazarova

(Image: This woman asks whether silence is really golden – more Russian women are speaking out against domestic violence. Credit: Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images)

Domestic violence is endemic and often deadly in Russia but some women are fighting back

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Insight, and analysis from BBC correspondents around the world

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Sierra Leone - The Price Of Going Home2020010220200106 (R4)

Fatmata, Jamilatu and Alimamy all see themselves as failures. They’re young Sierra Leoneans who risked everything for the sake of a better life in Europe. Along the way, they were imprisoned and enslaved. They saw friends die. Eventually, they gave up. Now, they’re home again - facing the devastating consequences of what they did to their families before they left, actions that have left them ostracised by their nearest and dearest. Who will help them to survive back home? Can they rebuild their lives, and achieve any reconciliation with their parents? And if they can’t, will they be tempted to set off again, to seek their fortunes abroad?

Produced and presented by Tim Whewell
Editor, Bridget Harney

A bitter homecoming for three young West Africans who tried to get to Europe - and failed

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Sri Lanka: The New Climate Of Fear2019120520191209 (R4)

There’s a new climate of fear in Sri Lanka. This time it’s the Muslim community who are fearful of the future. The Easter bomb attacks in Sri Lanka - targeting churches and international hotels - horrified the island. It’s suffered civil war - between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils - but never known jihadi violence. But the attacks also intensified a creeping campaign by the Sinhala Buddhist majority against the Muslim community - with Muslims murdered, their businesses burned or boycotted. Jill McGivering investigates the growing climate of fear now driving many Muslims to emigrate and casting a shadow over those left behind. Caroline Finnigan producing.

Muslims in Sri Lanka are deciding whether to stay or leave amidst a new climate of fear.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Insight, and analysis from BBC correspondents around the world

The Bitter Song Of The Hazelnut2019091920190923 (R4)

Every August tens of thousands of Kurdish migrant workers, including children, toil long hours for a pittance in the mountains of northern Turkey picking hazelnuts for the spreads and chocolate bars the world adores. Turkey provides 70% of all hazelnut supplies – and the biggest buyer is Ferrero, maker of Nutella and Kinder Bueno. The confectionery giant says it’s committed to ethical sourcing, and aiming for its hazelnuts to be 100% traceable next year. But how is that possible in Turkey, with its half a million tiny family orchards, where child labour is rife? Tim Whewell investigates Ferrero’s complex supply chain and finds that while hazelnuts are celebrated in Turkish culture and song, it’s a sector where workers and farmers feel increasingly unhappy and reform is very hard to achieve.

Long hours and little pay for the workers who pick Turkey's hazelnuts.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

Every August tens of thousands of Kurdish migrant workers, including children, toil long hours for a pittance in the mountains of northern Turkey picking hazelnuts for the spreads and chocolate bars the world adores. Turkey provides 70% of all hazelnut supplies – and the biggest buyer is Ferrero, maker of Nutella and Kinder Bueno. The confectionery giant says it’s committed to ethical sourcing, and by next year its hazelnuts will be 100% traceable. But how is that possible in Turkey, with its half a million tiny family orchards, where child labour is rife? Tim Whewell investigates Ferrero’s complex supply chain and finds that while hazelnuts are celebrated in Turkish culture and song, it’s a sector where workers and farmers feel increasingly unhappy and reform is very hard to achieve.

Tim Whewell investigates the sourcing of hazelnuts for the world's confectionary giants.

The Brazilian Footballer Who Never Was2019010320190107 (R4)

At 12, Douglas Braga arrived in Rio de Janeiro, a wide-eyed boy, ready to live out the Brazilian dream and become a professional footballer. At 18, he was signed by one of the country’s top teams - but was also starting to realise he couldn’t be true to himself and be a footballer. By 21, he’d quit the game. He knew he was gay and felt there was no place for him in a macho culture where homophobia is commonplace and out gay men are nowhere to be seen.

Now, at 36, Douglas lives in a country that just elected a self-styled “proud homophobe” as president, which some football fans have taken as a licence to step up their homophobic abuse and threats. But Douglas is back on the pitch and - with a growing number of other gay footballers - fighting back.

Reporter David Baker
Producer: Simon Maybin

How one boy's dream was cut short by the beautiful game's ugly prejudice in Brazil.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

The Man Who Died for Trees2020040220200406 (R4)

Romania's forests are the Amazon of Europe - with large wilderness areas under constant pressure from loggers. For years, corrupt authorities turned a blind eye to illegal felling. But now a series of killings in the woods has intensified demands across the continent to end the destruction. Six rangers - who defend forests from illegal cutting – have been killed in as many years. Two died in the space of just a few weeks late last year. The latest victim, Liviu Pop, father of three young girls, was shot as he confronted men he thought were stealing timber. But the men weren’t arrested. They say the ranger shot himself. And in the remote region of Maramures, where many people are involved in logging, that version is widely believed. Locals are afraid to talk about what happened. Is the lucrative logging business protected by powerful interests who turn a blind eye to murder? And are rangers sometimes complicit in the rape of the forest? For Crossing Continents, Tim Whewell tries to find out exactly how a young man employed to protect nature met his death. And he asks how Romania can save its wilderness when more than half the trees cut down are felled illegally?

Reporter: Tim Whewell
Editor: Bridget Harney

A mystery killing has shocked Romania as the fight over its ancient forests turns deadly

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

The Man Who Died for Trees20200402

Romania's forests are the Amazon of Europe - with large wilderness areas under constant pressure from loggers. For years, corrupt authorities turned a blind eye to illegal felling. But now a series of killings in the woods has intensified demands across the continent to end the destruction. Six rangers - who defend forests from illegal cutting – have been killed in as many years. Two died in the space of just a few weeks late last year. The latest victim, Liviu Pop, father of three young girls, was shot as he confronted men he thought were stealing timber. But the men weren’t arrested. They say the ranger shot himself. And in the remote region of Maramures, where many people are involved in logging, that version is widely believed. Locals are afraid to talk about what happened. Is the lucrative logging business protected by powerful interests who turn a blind eye to murder? And are rangers sometimes complicit in the rape of the forest? For Crossing Continents, Tim Whewell tries to find out exactly how a young man employed to protect nature met his death. And he asks how Romania can save its wilderness when more than half the trees cut down are felled illegally?

A mystery killing has shocked Romania as the fight over its ancient forests turns deadly

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

The Man Who Laughed At Al-qaeda2019112820191202 (R4)

Raed Fares, founder of Syria's legendary Radio Fresh FM, was mowed down by unknown gunmen as he left his studios in rebel-held Idlib in November 2018. The death of the man who fought hatred with humour and laughed in the faces of President Assad, ISIS and al-Qaeda, sent shockwaves way beyond his troubled homeland. When ordered by Islamist extremists to stop broadcasting music he had replied with bird song and clucking chickens. On being told to take his female presenters off air, he put their voices through software to make them sound like men. In tribute to its founder, Raed Fares's radio station has refused to die with him. One year on from his killing it continues to broadcast the comedy programmes he loved, as Assad's troops close in and bombs fall around it.

Presenter: Mike Thomson
Producer: Joe Kent

Remembering Raed Fares the Radio Fresh FM founder who fought hatred with humour in Syria.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

The Undercover Migrant2019072520190729 (R4)

When Azeteng, a young man from rural Ghana, heard stories on the radio of West African migrants dying on their way to Europe, he felt compelled to act. He took what little savings he had and bought reading glasses with a hidden camera – his “secret spectacles”. Then he put himself in the hands of people smugglers and travelled 3,000 miles on the desert migrant trail north, aiming to document the crimes of the traffickers. Along the way he saw extortion, slavery, and death in the vast stretches of the Sahara. In this edition of Crossing Continents we tell the story of his journey – a journey that thousands of young Africans like him attempt each year. Reporter, Joel Gunter.

Producer, Josephine Casserly.

(Photo: Azeteng's secret spectacles. Credit: Charlie Northcott/BBC)

A young Ghanaian man goes undercover on the perilous migrant trail, with a hidden camera.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

When Azeteng, a young man from rural Ghana, heard stories on the radio of West African migrants dying on their way to Europe, he felt compelled to act. He took what little savings he had and bought glasses with a hidden camera – his “secret spectacles”. Then he put himself in the hands of people smugglers and travelled 3,000 miles on the desert migrant trail north, aiming to document the crimes of the traffickers. Along the way he saw extortion, slavery, and death in the vast stretches of the Sahara. In this edition of Crossing Continents we tell the story of his journey – a journey that thousands of young Africans like him attempt each year. Reporter, Joel Gunter.

The story of West African migrants travelling to Europe.

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.

The Zogos of Liberia20200416

When Miatta was 14 years old, armed rebels stormed into her classroom and forcibly recruited her and her classmates. They were trained to use machine guns and then sent to the front line to fight in Liberia’s devastating civil war.

Nineteen years later, Miatta is what many Liberians would call a Zogo. The Zogos are Liberia’s underclass: jobless, homeless and addicted to drugs. They’re a menace on the streets of the capital, Monrovia, where many make their living by snatching purses and phones from passers-by.

In this Crossing Continents, Lucy Ash follows a projects aiming to rehabilitate hundreds of Liberia’s Zogos – including Miatta.

Reporter: Lucy Ash
Producer: Josephine Casserly
Editor: Bridget Harney

Inside the lives of Liberia\u2019s forgotten child soldiers

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues

Unrest In Ukraine's Little Hungary2019032820190401 (R4)

Eastern Ukraine has been under assault from Russian backed rebel forces for the past five years, but few have heard of a smaller conflict, which could be brewing in the west of the country, between Ukraine and Hungary. Some have accused the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of trying to create a breakaway state in impoverished Transcarpathia, once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Ukraine and Hungary both expelled diplomats from each other’s nations, following a row over passports and a Hungarian cultural centre has been repeatedly firebombed. Lucy Ash meets people in the Ukrainian border town of Berehove and investigates whether deepening tensions could destabilise the region and further dash Ukraine’s hopes of being a unified country inside NATO and the EU.

Producer: Josephine Casserly

(Image: Pupil at a Hungarian-language secondary school in Berehove in Western Ukraine walks down a corridor bearing a portrait of Lajos Kossuth, the 19th Century political reformer after whom the school is named. Credit: Balint Bardi)

Tensions are rising on Ukraine's western border

Series focusing on foreign affairs issues.