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Libya's Unfinished Revolution

It’s ten years since Libya’s dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. But the country’s still not a a democracy – or even a unified functioning state. The militias that brought down the dictatorship in 2011 never disbanded. They turned the country into a battleground, abducting and murdering countless citizens. Since last year, there’s been a ceasefire in the long civil war. Elections are planned. But how powerful are the militias – even now? And how hopeful are Libyans about their future? Reporter Tim Whewell, who covered the uprising in 2011, returns to find out what happened to Libya’s revolution. At spectacular horse-races in the city of Misrata, he meets Libyans who say they have more opportunities now than under Gaddafi. But many writers and activists have fled the country or gone silent, fearing they might disappear if they say anything that displeases armed groups. Some militias have officially been turned into security arms of the state. But that’s given them access to valuable state resources - and militia commanders are accused of becoming mafia bosses. Tim meets possible future leader Fathi Bashagha, who vows to tame the armed groups. But would he prosecute their commanders for past crimes? And can the eastern and western sides of Libya, effectively still under separate authorities despite a unity government, be brought together? Many think war may break out again, and some young Libyans, despairing for their country’s future, are even risking the dangerous passage across the Mediterranean, to emigrate.

Producer: Bob Howard

The Mystery of Havana Syndrome

Gordon Corera investigates the mysterious illness that has struck American diplomats and spies. It began after some reported hearing strange sounds in Havana 2016, but reports have since spread around the world. Doctors, scientists, intelligence agents and government officials have all been trying to find out what exactly causes these sounds and the lingering health effects. Some call it an act of war, others wonder if it is some new and secret form of surveillance while others believe it could even be in the mind. So who or what is responsible?
Producer, Emma Wells.
Editor, Bridget Harney.

Moria - After the Fire

The fire that destroyed the sprawling Moria asylum seekers’ camp on the Greek island of Lesvos last September made headlines around the world. For the asylum seekers who lost their makeshift home and most of their possessions, it was a devastating setback. For Greece, still hosting thousands of migrants Europe won’t take in, the fire intensified a determination to move them on elsewhere What’s happened to some of Moria’s former residents since then? Working with Athens-based journalists Katy Fallon and Stavros Malichudis,, Maria Margaronis follows a few of them—all Afghans--as they negotiate the search for safety and stability some migrants call “the game.” After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, tens of thousands of Afghans are trying to leave their country. These are the stories of some who had already made the journey.

Presented and produced by Maria Margaronis.
Special thanks to Lighthouse Reports for their support in gathering this material.

Catalonia: Squatters, Eviction and Extortion

Spain has a history of squatting. After the property crash of 2008 many families were forced to occupy homes that did not belong to them because they could not pay their mortgages. Now a darker side to ‘okupacion’ has emerged. Organised crime has seen an opportunity. Some flats in Barcelona have become ‘narcopisos’ - properties used to process or sell drugs. Other empty properties have been ‘sub-let’ by gangs to families who cannot afford a commercial rent. And the pandemic has spawned a new commercial model – extortion. These are cases where squatters occupy a property and demand a ‘ransom’ from the owner of several thousand Euros before they will leave. Enter the controversial ‘desokupa’ companies – firms run by boxers and bouncers who will evict unwanted 'tenants'.

Producer / Presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer / Presenter in Spain: Esperanza Escribano
Editor: Bridget Harney

(Image: Jorge Fe, director of FueraOkupas – a company dedicated to evicting squatters and unwanted tenants. Credit: BBC/Esperanza Escribano)

India’s Living Dead

What would it be like if everyone believed you were dead? Lal Bihari knows exactly what that feels like. When he was 22-years-old, the Indian farmer was told by his local government office that he was dead and no protestations that he was standing before them would persuade the bureaucrats otherwise – after all, his death certificate was there as proof. Whether the victim of a scam or a clerical error, the end result for Bihari was to lose his business and all the land he was hoping to inherit. It took him more than two decades to reinstate himself among the living during which time he tried everything from going on hunger strike to kidnapping someone in the hopes that the police would be forced to concede that a dead man could not be arrested. Today, more than a quarter of a century later, Bihari runs the Association for the Living Dead of India through which he says he has helped thousands of people who have fallen victim to the same thing. He tells his extraordinary story to Chloe Hadjimatheou for Crossing Continents.

Production Team in India: Ajit Sarathi; Kinjal Pandya; Piyush Nagpal and Praveen Mudholkar
Editor: Bridget Harney

What’s Killing Israel’s Arabs?

Israel’s Arab population is in the grip of a violent and deadly crime wave. Since the start of the year, scores of Arab citizens have lost their lives and increasingly, even women and children are victims of drive-by killings, point-blank shootings and escalating gang warfare. Arabs account for only around one in five of all Israelis, yet they are now the vast majority of the country’s murder victims. The BBC’s Yolande Knell meets victims’ families and those in authority to find out what is going on, and asks what hope there is for an end to the carnage.
Reporter: Yolande Knell
Producer in London: Michael Gallagher
Editor: Bridget Harney

Nigeria's Kidnapped Children

Since December, armed gangs have seized more than a thousand students and staff from schools across northern Nigeria. Parents face extortionate demands in exchange for the freedom of their sons and daughters and many families in Africa’s most populous nation are now too afraid to send their children to class. The wave of abductions has devastating consequences for the country, which already has the highest number of children out of education anywhere in the world. For Crossing Continents, the BBC’s Mayeni Jones travels to the region and meets those affected in order to understand what’s fueling Nigeria’s kidnap crisis.

Producers: Naomi Scherbel-Ball in Lagos and Michael Gallagher in London
Editor: Bridget Harney

Rebuilding Beirut’s Village in a City

A year ago Johnny Khawand saw the home he grew up in ripped apart by the massive explosion in a chemical dump in the port of Beirut, Lebanon – one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history. For hours Johnny fought to save neighbours trapped in the rubble, seeing some die in front of him. Now, after months of restoration work, he’s coming back to try to rebuild his life, hoping that the unique spirit of his close-knit, multi-faith neighbourhood – Karantina – will survive. As he enters his house again for the first time, memories flood back – both comforting and distressing. Johnny and other survivors have formed close bonds with some of the volunteers, including engineers and architects, who’ve spent the last year rebuilding the district for free. They’re passionate about restoring its ancient buildings exactly as they were before. But they’re angry that they’ve received no help from the Lebanese state, which is accused of negligence over the explosion. And Johnny and others now fear that wider redevelopment plans will bring in big money and change Karantina’s character forever. For Crossing Continents, Tim Whewell asks if Beirut’s “village in a city”, with its many layers of history and memory, can survive?

Reporter and producer: Tim Whewell
Producer: Mohamad Chreyteh
Editor: Bridget Harney

Dangerous Liaisons in Sinaloa

The Mexican state of Sinaloa is synonymous with drug trafficking. With the profits from organised crime a driver of the local economy, the tentacles of ‘narco cultura’ extend deep into people’s lives – especially those of women. In the city of Culiacan, plastic surgeons service demand for the exaggerated feminine silhouette favoured by the men with guns and hard cash. Often women’s surgery will be paid for by a ‘sponsor’ or ‘godfather’. Meanwhile, a group of women trackers spend their weekends digging in isolated parts of the state, looking for the remains of loved ones who disappear in Sinaloa’s endless cycle of drug-fuelled violence.

Producer / presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer in Mexico: Ulises Escamilla
Editor: Bridget Harney

(Photo: Lawyer Maria Teresa Guerra advocates for women in Sinaloa. Credit: BBC/Ulises Escamilla)

Saving the Vaquita

Jacques Cousteau called Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, ‘the aquarium of the world’. It is home to one of the most critically endangered species on earth. The vaquita is a small porpoise facing total extinction, whose numbers have dwindled to less than a dozen. In particular, the vaquita get caught in the nets used to catch totoaba. Casting nets for this large marine fish is illegal. But the totoaba’s swim bladder is believed to have potent medicinal properties in China, and sells for thousands of dollars in a trade controlled by Mexican organised crime. So efforts to save the vaquita have brought conflict to poor fishing communities in northern Baja California – people who often rely on an illicit income from totoaba. On New Year’s Eve, 2020 one fisherman was killed and another seriously injured in an altercation between local boats and an NGO ship patrolling to stop the sinking of illegal nets that kill the vaquita. Linda Pressly reports from the coast of Baja California on a dangerous clash of interests. Can the vaquita be saved?

Producer: Michael Gallagher
Producer in Mexico: Ulises Escamilla Haro
Editor, Bridget Harney

(Image: Illustration of a vaquita in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Credit: Greenpeace/Marcelo Otero)

Myanmar: The Spring Revolution

More than 750 people have been killed by the Myanmar military since they seized power in a coup three months ago. Mass protests demanding a return to democracy and the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been met with brutal force. Borders are closed and the internet effectively blocked. This is a story the military does not want the world to hear. But people are bravely documenting their resistance. We follow three young activists now in a fight for their future. As their options close…Can they win back democracy?

Produced and presented by Rebecca Henschke with Kelvin Brown

Drug Free in Norway

Can Norwegians with psychosis benefit from radical, drug-free treatment? In a challenge to the foundations of western psychiatry, a handful of Norway’s mental health facilities are offering medication-free treatment to people with serious psychiatric conditions. But five years after the scheme began it is still being questioned by the health establishment. For Crossing Continents, Lucy Proctor hears the testimony of Norwegian psychiatric patients, and the doctors who have aligned themselves on either side of the debate. Why is this happening in Norway? And how much power should people with debilitating psychosis have over their own lives?

Presenter: Lucy Proctor
Producer: Linda Pressly
Editor: Bridget Harney

55 episodes

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