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20
JAN

Hunting Syria's War Criminals

Imagine walking down a street in a European capital and meeting your torturer. For many Syrian refugees fleeing war and human rights abuses, Europe was meant to be a sanctuary. So it was a shock when people began bumping into their torturers out shopping or in a cafe. In fact many of those involved in the Syrian government’s notorious interrogation facilities are hiding in plain sight in European cities having used the refugee wave as a “ratline” out of the country. More and more are now being investigated, arrested and put on trial in European courts. But with President Assad firmly in control in Syria the long arm of the state is reaching those willing to testify. For Crossing Continents, Chloe Hadjimatheou and Michael Ertl look at how the Syrian war is continuing to play out in Europe.

Presented and produced by Chloe Hadjimatheou and Michael Ertl
Editor, Bridget Harney
13
JAN

Montenegro’s Chinese Road

It’s been called the priciest piece of tarmac in the world. In 2014 the government of Montenegro signed a contract with a state-owned Chinese company to build part of a 170 kilometre-long highway – a road that would connect its main port with the Serbian border to the north. The price-tag on the first 42 kilometres of asphalt was a staggering $1 billion - most of which has been borrowed from a Chinese bank. In Montenegro, questions continue to be asked about why the project went ahead when some experts said that it was not viable. The River Tara – a UNESCO protected site – has been impacted by the building works, and allegations of corruption and kickbacks have hung around like a bad smell. Meanwhile, the economy has taken a massive hit as a result of the pandemic, and some Montenegrins worry about the country's ability to repay the loan. Worse still, a clause in the road contract states that Montenegro may relinquish sovereignty over unspecified parts of its territory if there is a default. But is everything as it seems? Crossing Continents investigates.


Presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer: Mike Gallagher
Editor: Bridget Harney
06
JAN

Turkey's Crazy Project

A giant new canal for the world’s biggest ships is the most ambitious engineering plan yet proposed by Turkey’s President Erdogan, whose massive infrastructure projects have already changed the face of his country. The proposed waterway would slice through Istanbul, creating in effect a second Bosphorus, the busy shipping lane that is now the only outlet from the Black Sea. The president himself has called the project 'crazy'. But he says it would 'save the future of Istanbul', easing traffic in the Bosphorus and reducing the risk of a terrible accident there. The plan has met a storm of opposition. Istanbul’s mayor says it would “murder” the historic city. Critics claim the canal would be an environmental disaster, cost billions of dollars that Turkey can’t afford – and provoke severe tensions with Russia, which is determined to preserve existing rules on traffic into and out of the Black Sea. Tim Whewell reports from a divided city. He sails down the Bosphorus with a pilot who knows all its twists and turns, joins a marine biologist diving for coral in the Sea of Marmara, meets a woman whose Ottoman-era mansion was wrecked by a ship, has tea with a former admiral who was arrested over his opposition to the project, and visits the tranquil forests around the city, now threatened by development. Will the canal still go ahead? Who would lose – and who would benefit?
30
DEC
2021

Peru's left behind children

Peru has been battered by Covid-19. It has the highest known death toll in the world per capita. But behind the figures there’s another hidden pandemic. By the end of April 2021 around 93,000 children had lost a father, mother, grand-parent, or other primary caregiver to the virus - that’s one in every hundred children. For Crossing Continents, Jane Chambers travels to Lima to meet the families struggling to cope. The immediate urgency of the health crisis is masking a much deeper malaise; that of a generation of children mentally and physically scarred by loss and poverty.

Reported and produced by Jane Chambers.
Editor, Bridget Harney

(Image: Jhoana Olinda Antón Silva and her children in their home at the shrine they built for their father who died of Covid-19. Credit: Paola Ugaz)
23
DEC
2021

The Runaway maids of Oman

Hundreds of young women from Sierra Leone, West Africa, have been trapped in the Arabian sultanate of Oman, desperate to get home. Promised work in shops and restaurants, they say they were tricked into becoming housemaids, working up to 18 hours a day, often without pay, and sometimes abused by their employers. Some ran away, to live a dangerous underground existence at the mercy of the authorities. Now, they are being rescued with the help of charities and diplomats. Back home, some have empowered themselves for the first time, joining a women’s farming collective. But others can’t easily recover from the ill-treatment and isolation they suffered in Arabia.

Reporter: Tim Whewell.

(Photo: Sierra Leonean women hoping for repatriation after leaving their employers in Oman. Credit: Do Bold)
16
DEC
2021

Denmark's Red Van

Every weekend night in Copenhagen's red light district of Vesterbro, a group of volunteers pull up and park a red van. This is no ordinary vehicle. The interior is lit with fairy lights. There is a bed – and a ready supply of condoms. The Red Van constitutes a harm reduction strategy like no other. It is designed for use by women selling sex on the streets – somewhere they can bring their clients. Just as health workers might argue addicts should have a safe place where they can take their drugs to prevent overdoses, the Red Van NGO’s volunteers believe they are creating a more secure environment for Copenhagen’s sex workers or prostitutes.
For Crossing Continents, Linda Pressly reports from Copenhagen.

Series editor: Bridget Harney
09
DEC
2021

Poland’s Fractured Borderlands

Thousands of people – mostly migrants from the Middle East - are camped in freezing weather at the Poland-Belarus border. Many have spent thousands of dollars to fly into Belarus on tourist visas, with the hope of an easy crossing into the EU. They’re pawns, trapped in a battle of wills between Belarus’ autocratic president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, and Poland and the European Union. The Polish government is taking a tough line, imposing an exclusion zone along the border and sealing off the area to journalists and aid workers. Migrants caught in the forest are arrested and sent back to Belarus. Several, including two children, have died from the cold and more deaths are expected as winter sets in. Meanwhile local residents are divided about how to deal with the humanitarian disaster unfolding on their doorstep. For Crossing Continents, Lucy Ash visits towns and villages in the area to see what impact the crisis is having on people’s lives.

Reporter, Lucy Ash
Produced by Lucy Ash and Eva Kyrsiak
Editor, Bridget Harney
Research, Grzegorz Sokol

(Image: Polish volunteers provide relief to injured migrants stranded in the icy forest. Credit: Agnieszka Sadowska / Agencja Wyborcza.pl)
02
DEC
2021

Sleepless in Seoul

Korea is one of the most stressed and tired nations on earth, a place where people work and study longer hours than anywhere else. And statistics show they are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off and relax; they sleep fewer hours and have higher rates of depression and suicide than almost anywhere else.
And as a result sleeplessness and stress has become big business in Korea; from sleep clinics where doctors assess people overnight, to ‘sleep cafes’ offering naps in the middle of the working day, to relaxation drinks. Even Buddhism is moving in on the action with temple retreats and monk-led apps to help stressed out Koreans to relax. There is a lot of money to be made but some Koreans have become worried that in trying to sell religion to the next generation, some faith leaders might be losing touch with Buddhist principles themselves. For Crossing Continents Se-Woong Koo reports from Seoul on a nation that’s wired on staying awake. Producer, Chloe Hadjimatheou.
26
NOV
2021

Rotterdam and the cocaine connection

In the Port of Rotterdam they are preparing for a ‘White Xmas’ - but no one is talking about snow. Europe’s North Sea coast has overtaken the Iberian peninsula as the primary point of entry for cocaine reaching the continent. Industrial-sized labs have been busted in the Netherlands, and mafia-style executions have occurred on the streets. Most recently the crime journalist, Peter R de Vries was shot and mortally wounded in busy Amsterdam. For Crossing Continents, Linda Pressly asks how the Netherlands has become one of the largest illicit drug economies of the world.

Reporter, Linda Pressly
Producer, Michael Gallagher
Editor, Bridget Harney

(Image: CCTV footage from the port of Rotterdam showing cocaine ‘collectors’ – young men charged with retrieving smuggled narcotics from shipping containers. Credit: Kramer Group)
18
NOV
2021

Salmon Wars

A bitter fight over fish is playing out in the American West. Sockeye salmon make one of the great migrations in the world, swimming 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean to 6,500 feet up in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, where they spawn and die - but that journey may not happen much longer.

In addition to the gauntlet of predators the fish face, from orcas on the west coast to eagles in the mountains, they are running into a man-made obstacle: dams.

Most scientists agree the dams need to go for the fish to live, but the dams provide clean energy and an inexpensive way for farmers to get their crops to international markets.

Heath Druzin investigates how a bitter fight is underway in the American West pitting Native American tribes, fisherman and conservationists against grain growers and power producers.

Meanwhile, time is running out for the iconic species.

Presented by Heath Druzin
Produced by Richard Fenton-Smith
Editor, Bridget Harney
16
SEP
2021

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
09
SEP
2021

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.

65 episodes

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