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The Fifth Floor


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

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.




Somalia's election impasse

Somalia currently has a president in name only. President Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed, who’s also known by his nickname Farmajo, should have ended his term of office on 8 February. But the parliamentary elections to begin the process of choosing a new president are yet to take place. It's a tense situation, and opposition protests last week in Mogadishu saw gunfire, with more protests planned. BBC Africa's Bella Sheegow in Mogadishu and BBC Monitoring's Ibrahim Aydid in Nairobi explain what's...


Six years on: the murder of Avijit Roy

It’s six years since the secular blogger Avijit Roy was murdered outside the Dhaka book fair, where he'd been a speaker. This week, five men were sentenced to be hanged for their part in the killing. BBC Bangla journalist Akbar Hossain has been covering the story since 2015 and reflects on the story. The "Switzerland of Africa" Photos posted on social media this week show alpine vistas and snow covered houses in Morocco. It's not a surprise to BBC Africa's Nora Fakim, who visited the...


Ethiopia's missing refugees

The Ethiopian government declared victory over the former ruling party of Tigray at the end of November, but information from the region is still sparse. One unanswered question is: what happened to thousands of Eritrean refugees living in camps there who went missing during the fighting? Bekit Teklemariam of BBC Tigrinya has been trying to find out. Chinese New Year 2021 It’s officially Chinese New Year’s day today, usually a time when millions from outside and within China head home for...


Myanmar: Reporting the coup

It’s less than a week since a military coup in Myanmar, staged as a new session of parliament was set to open. BBC Burmese editor Soe Win Than tells us about events leading up to the coup, and reactions in Myanmar, where the transition to democracy has proved short-lived. My Home Town: Changwon, South Korea Julie Yoonnyung Lee of BBC Korean takes us to her hometown of Changwon in South Korea to ride bicycles and admire the cherry blossom. Unwitching Assam Birubala Rabha grew up in India's...


Somalia: memories, identity and war

In January 1991, the Somali state collapsed into civil war after the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre. For those living in what used to be British Somaliland, the violence began in 1988, when government forces bombed Hargeisa. Thousands fled to neighbouring Ethiopia, including Ismail Einashe, then a young boy, now a contributor to BBC Africa’s Letter from Africa. He reflects on his memories of that time, and Hartisheik refugee camp, to which he returned in 2019. David Amanor has left the...


Ten years after Tahrir Square

It has been 10 years since the Egyptian revolution, which forced President Hosni Mubarak from office. But what has happened since? And are the people who were involved in the revolution satisfied with the ways in which the country has changed? Hanan Razek and Reem Fatthelbab of BBC Arabic have been speaking to former protesters to hear their reflections. Nepal’s K2 heroes Nepal is celebrating the success of a team of Nepalese climbers who have become the first to reach the summit of...


Beirut port blast: five months on

On 4th August last year 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate blew up in a Beirut port warehouse. The explosion killed 200 people, injured thousands, and destroyed the port. Last month the public enquiry into the blast charged four politicians with negligence, including Prime Minister Hassan Diab. BBC Arabic’s Carine Torbey got an exclusive interview with him. Cuba’s “sovereign” vaccine Cuba has entered a new partnership with Iran to trial a new coronavirus vaccine. Its high hopes are summed up...


The abandoned Iraqi interpreters

Iraqis who worked as interpreters for British and US forces knew that their work was dangerous, but many did it from a sense of patriotism. But as coalition forces withdraw, many interpreters feel increasingly vulnerable to militias who see them as traitors. Nafiseh Kohnavard of BBC Persian recently met some interpreters in Baghdad to find out about their worries. Chittagong's disappearing streams In the Chittagong Hill Tracts of south-east Bangladesh, local people rely on forest streams for...


Vaccines, violence and forests

We look forward to 2021 from the very different perspectives of three continental giants – China, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. BBC Chinese editor Howard Zhang, Ricardo Senra of BBC Brasil and BBC Africa’s Emery Makumeno tell us what their focus will be in 2021, and suggest some New Year’s resolutions for their countries.


Memorable journeys of 2020

Three journalists share stories of travels undertaken in the year of the pandemic. BBC Delhi's Neha Sharma went to Indian-administered Kashmir, a year after it was stripped of autonomy; Victoria Uwonkunda of BBC Africa covered the US election, finding voters from the African diaspora; and Olga Ivshina of BBC Russian went to Azerbaijan to meet families affected by the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Image: Olga Ivshina in Azerbaijan Credit: BBC


'Milk siblings' and Islam

Margarita Rodriguez of BBC Mundo recently published a story about Islamic milk kinship, or milk siblings. It refers to the relationship between children from different mothers who are breastfed by the same woman. It brings with it a special bond, but also prohibitions. Living and working with Covid-19 The perks and pressures of working through a pandemic, with Beatriz de la Pava from BBC Minute’s Spanish team, BBC Russian’s Grigor Atanesian, Issariya Praithongyaem from BBC Thai, BBC Uzbek’s...


A small election in North Macedonia

North Macedonia is holding local elections this weekend. The country has been independent for nearly three decades, but it is not unusual for the countries of the former Yugoslavia to be interested in what happens next door. But not generally in small mayoral elections. BBC Serbian reporter Aleksandar Miladinovic explains that he travelled more than 450 kilometres talk to Stip to find out more about one of the candidates, Simon Gajiga. Nepali chef in MasterChef: The Professionals It’s not...


China’s provocative political artist

China and Australia are in a diplomatic fight, after the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman posted a fake image of an Australian soldier killing an Afghan child. The artist was Wuheqilin, a self-styled "Wolf Warrior" and "cyber-nationalist" based in Beijing. BBC Chinese editor Howard Zhang tells us more about the controversial artist fighting China's corner. In praise of Mborokhé Seydina Alioune Djigo, who’s based at BBC Dakar, has put his journalistic neutrality on the line to nominate his...


The self-styled prophet of Siberia

In September FSB soldiers descended in helicopters on a remote Siberian village to arrest a religious leader, Vissarion. They arrived with guns, but were welcomed by his followers, who don't believe in conflict. BBC Russian journalist Nataliya Zotova travelled to deep into the forests of Krasnoyarsk Territory to meet followers of the Church of the Last Testament and find out more. Thailand's "CIA" food hawkers Thailand's pro-democracy protests have sprung up all over Bangkok, but in every...


Explaining Tigray

The crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has continued to intensify, but what are the repercussions for ordinary Tigrayans? Hana Zeratsyon of BBC Tigrinya tells us how the conflict is affecting her friends and family back home. And where did the tensions begin? The BBC's Emmanuel Igunza, who was based in Addis Ababa for many years, explains. Keeping a precious text alive La Galigo is an ancient text which tells the creation story of the Bugis people of South Sulawesi in Indonesia, and is...


Kenya's camel-back clinic

Last year BBC Africa TV reported on the big challenge of getting medicines and healthcare to Kenya's Maasai, Samburu and Turkana people, who are often on the move with their livestock. Christine Njeri discovered how camels have been enlisted to help with transport. Saris in lockdown Chinki Sinha, who's a contributor to BBC Hindi in Delhi, returned to the family home in Bihar for lockdown. As time went by, friends and followers on social media started to notice an eye-catching series of...


Turkey’s Armenians under pressure

The Nagorno Karabakh conflict has put Turkey’s Armenian community in a predicament. The disputed territory is an Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan controlled by separatist Armenians. Turkey backs Azerbaijan while Armenia backs the separatists. But beneath these allegiances lie even deeper divisions that affect ethnic Armenians in Turkey. BBC Turkish journalist Esra Yalcinalp helps unpick this knotty issue. My home town: Kigali Felin Gakwaya of BBC Great Lakes takes us home to...


Inside the schools that chain boys

A BBC Arabic investigation has uncovered systemic child abuse inside Islamic schools in Sudan, known as khalwas. It found that boys are routinely chained, shackled and beaten; in some khalwas there was evidence of sexual abuse. The BBC’s Mamdouh Akbiek worked with a local investigative journalist on the story. Boston's Brazilian party-goers Boston’s large Brazilian community has stirred up controversy by holding huge outdoor parties despite Covid-19 restrictions, as BBC Brasil’s Ricardo...


The battle for Florida’s Latino voters

Florida makes or breaks the US presidential election, and Spanish language ads have been bombarding Latino voters. BBC Monitoring journalist in Miami Luis Fajardo analyses the tactics and tunes being used by both Republicans and Democrats to swing the state. Egypt’s septuagenarian record breaking footballer Ezzeldin Bahader recently entered the record books as the world’s oldest professional footballer aged 74. BBC Arabic sports reporter Marwa Helmy has followed the inspiring story. A trip...


Raucous rude and simultaneously translated!

How do you simultaneously interpret a live US presidential debate, when the candidates are talking over each other, and throwing in the odd insult as well? Over to BBC Persian’s top team, Siavash Ardalan and Nicholas Niksadat. Image: BBC Persian's simultaneous interpreters, alongside President Trump and Joe Biden Credit: BBC