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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.




The Kenyan men campaigning against FGM

Campaigns to end female genital mutilation usually focus on women’s experiences for obvious reasons: women bear the lifelong physical and psychological scars. But in Kenya the Men End FGM Foundation is adding men’s voices to the anti-FGM movement. Esther Ogola is the women’s affairs reporter in Nairobi who covered the story. Arabic coffee and health BBC Arabic has been investigating the health risks of the strong dark coffee traditionally drunk in Greece and Turkey and across the Arab world....


Afghanistan: History repeats itself

For many in the BBC Afghan service, recent events have brought back traumatic memories. For Shekiba Habib, the first takeover by the Taliban ended her dream of becoming a doctor. 20 years on, she shares similar stories she's hearing of broken dreams and loss of hope. El Salvador and Bitcoin: the El Zonte mystery Bitcoin joined the US dollar as legal tender in El Salvador this week. Quite a leap, but it turns out the small tourist surf town of El Zonte had been using the cryptocurrency for a...


Afghanistan: The view from nextdoor

Events in Afghanistan are being closely followed in neighbouring Uzbekistan. Rustam Qobil of BBC Uzbek tells us about the strong cultural and economic ties between the two countries, and what the main concerns are for Uzbekistan and for the Afghan Uzbek population. Afghan Hazaras face persecution by the Taliban and have been fleeing over the Pakistani border in Balochistan. BBC Urdu's Saher Baloch went to Quetta to meet some of the refugees who've been welcomed by the local Hazara community,...


The valley of Afghan resistance

In Afghanistan one province is still resisting the Taliban takeover of the country, the Panjshir Valley. The valley also held out during the 80s and 90s against both the Soviet and the Taliban forces. Ismael Sadaat is a journalist with BBC Afghan in London, and has visited the valley several times. He explains why this place has repeatedly been the centre of Afghanistan's armed resistance movements. India's beleaguered Sunderbans The Sunderbans in the Bay of Bengal are the world's largest...


Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover

There is fear and uncertainty in Afghanistan as people wonder what their lives will be like under Taliban rule. Sana Safi from BBC Pashto shares her insights from listening to and interviewing the Taliban, and talking to contacts in Afghanistan. Delhi and Kashmir: two lives in letters In 2017, BBC journalist Divya Arya brought together schoolgirls Saumya and Duaa, from Delhi and Indian-administered Kashmir, to become penfriends. She tells us how their growing understanding and friendship...


Russian mercenaries in Libya

We hear how BBC Russian and BBC Arabic collaborated in a joint investigation into the role of mercenaries from Russia's secretive Wagner Group in the conflict in Libya. Kateryna Khinkulova and Nader Ibrahim explain how they identified Russian fighters and uncovered evidence of suspected war crimes. China's wandering elephants A herd of elephants have finally returned to their nature reserve in southern China after leaving it 17 months ago to trek over 500 kilometres. It is still unclear why...


On the front line: New York, Ukraine

Ukraine has regained its own New York after parliament this week voted to give the name back to a small town near the front line in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists. Svyatoslav Khomenko of BBC Ukrainian has been asking locals what they think of the return to the original name. Jaffa after the violence For a few nights in May, the Israeli city of Jaffa was the scene of violent clashes between Jews and Arabs. Similar outbreaks happened across Israel, after rising tensions triggered by...


Kyiv march: 'Eucharist is our vaccine'

This week tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians marched through Kyiv, despite coronavirus restrictions, to mark the anniversary of Vladimir the Great adopting the Christian faith. Myroslava Petsa of BBC Ukrainian reported from the march and tells us why it was so controversial this year. For the love of dancehall Egyptian Yara Saleh turned her back on a prestigious career as an oil engineer to devote her life to dance. Specifically to dancehall, a genre that originated in Jamaica. She's...


Khuzestan: Iran's thirsty province

Protests have swept through Iran's Khuzestan province. Severe water shortages and a lack of drinking water have brought demonstrators to the streets, shouting 'I am thirsty'. BBC Persian's Parham Ghobadi explains why water has become such a flashpoint. My Home Town: Sahaspur, India Khadeeja Arif of BBC Urdu takes us to her home town in Uttar Pradesh, a place to chat with neighbours under mango trees. Doctor without Stigma An Indonesian doctor is campaigning to remove the stigma many women...


Women fighting to inherit

Why is it that so many women in the Arab world are deprived of their inheritance rights, even though local laws should protect them? Shereen Nanish of BBC Arabic has been looking at the pressures they face, and she’s met one Jordanian woman who is fighting back. South Sudan’s first decade The world's youngest country turned 10 this month. Nichola Mandil of BBC Africa reported from Juba in 2011, and again for the tenth anniversary. He reflects on his hopes and dreams as a brand new South...


Burkina Faso gold: A mixed blessing

Gold is now Burkina Faso’s most valuable export, but it’s come at a price. Last month the government announced the closure of small mines in the northern province of Sahel following a deadly attack by Islamic extremists. BBC Africa's Lalla Sy has been following the story from neighbouring Ivory Coast. Remembering Dilip Kumar Dilip Kumar, one of India’s earliest and most famous film actors, died this week at the age of 98. We hear some of the many reasons why he was so special from Vandana at...


Lebanon: A web of corruption

BBC Arabic's Moe Chreif tells us about the biggest corruption investigation in the history of Lebanon’s energy sector, which resulted in allegations involving multi-million dollar agreements, bribery, and shipments of substandard oil. The women pushing boundaries in Pakistan’s rural milk market In rural Pakistan women milk cows, but male relatives take the milk to male-run collection centres. Shuja Malik of BBC Urdu visited a village where women have been hired to work in the milk centre....


Hotel Rwanda hero on trial

Paul Rusesabagina became internationally famous after the film Hotel Rwanda told the story of how he helped save over a thousand Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, sheltering them in the hotel where he worked. But many inside Rwanda dispute his heroic portrayal, and he's currently standing trial in Rwanda accused of terrorism offences. BBC Great Lakes journalist Prudent Nsengiyumva has been following the case. World's oldest alligator BBC Serbian had a big hit on its website last week with a...


Finding treasure inside a whale

A group of Yemeni fishermen recently found a sperm whale carcass floating in the Gulf of Aden, with $1.5 million dollars' worth of ambergris inside its belly. Afra Ahmed of BBC Arabic is from Aden, and tells us about the fishermen, ambergris and memories of Aden. The hit Turkish TV shows tackling mental health Turkish TV dramas are famous for their sweeping historical and romantic themes, but in recent years, several top shows have focussed on mental health issues. Dilay Yalcin of BBC...


Germany's apology to Namibia

The German state has formally recognised that its colonial troops committed genocide in what's now Namibia at the start of the twentieth century. It is also paying $1.3 billion towards development projects in affected communities, but as BBC Africa's Pumza Fihlani reports, the offer has not been welcomed by descendants of the Nama and Herero survivors. South Korea's 'flower prescription' tattooist A tattoo artist in South Korea is using her art to help clients who have struggled with their...


Visiting Russia’s Arctic military base

Russia's northernmost military base, in the remote archipelago of Franz Josef Land, demonstrates its ambitions for the Arctic, as melting ice opens up new opportunities. The BBC Moscow news team were given rare access to the base, and Liza Shuvalova tells us what she saw there. Venezuela and Trinidad Between the 1960s and 90s, many people from the island of Trinidad made the 11 kilometre sea crossing to Venezuela in search of better lives. Today, the migration has reversed, with Venezuelans...


First days of freedom in Yuma

Yuma, a small city in the middle of the desert in Arizona, is receiving an overwhelming number of asylum seekers who have crossed the US border from Latin America. BBC Mundo's Patricia Sulbaran follows the journey of one particular family, from their first "free" days after they were released from detention until reunited with family in Miami. Belarus plane forced landing Confusion and shock surrounded the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk this week, and the subsequent detention of...


I left Gaza, but Gaza did not leave me

The flare-up of violence in Gaza and Israel brought back difficult memories for Shahdi Alkashif. He was BBC Arabic’s Gaza correspondent during the 2014 conflict. Now based in Turkey, he tells us what it was like to be an observer of the recent hostilities. Uzbek salute shambles An Uzbek mayor and four military men found themselves the butt of social media jokes after they were filmed at Remembrance Day commemorations, clearly uncertain whether to salute, wave or put their hands on their...


Mexico's apology to the Mayans

Last week, Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador apologised to the indigenous Mayan people for abuses committed against them since independence. But with elections looming, some are questioning the timing of the apology. The BBC's Lourdes Heredia discusses this historic moment. Targetting Afghan girls Zuhal Ahad of BBC Afghan shares her experiences of reporting on the bomb attack outside a girls' school last weekend which left more than 80 dead, many of them schoolgirls. It happened...


Women and peace in Afghanistan

The BBC Media Action team in Afghanistan recently went on the road with their programme Open Jirga to hear about women’s hopes and fears for any peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Presenter Shazia Haya heard from the ambitious young women of Herat’s all-female robotics team, and from women in the Taliban heartland city of Kandahar who risked their lives to have their voices heart. Baghdad's graffiti artists A group of graffiti artists in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have...