BurmaTin Maung Win (pseudonym), a Burmese prisoner of war being held by rebels in Kachin State near the Burma-China border. (Photo: Simon Roughneen, December 2012). A military dictatorship for almost 50 years, Burma's recent reforms have legitimised western business interests as governments remove sanctions. However sectarian and ethnic fighting continues in Kachin, while Buddhist-Muslim tensions have erupted into violence in Arakan in the west and in central Burma.
PakistanStories from Kashmir after the 2005 earthquake, and from Sindh after the 2010 floods. These children were left homeless by the 2010 floods and had spent 2 weeks sleeping outdoors on the outskirts of Sukkur, Sindh Province by the time I took this photo.
Middle EastImpact of shelling and gunfire at a Sunni-Alawite interface in Tripoli, Lebanon. (Photo: Simon Roughneen, August 2008). This same street has seen fighting again in early 2013, partly an extension of sectarian clashes in Syria. Here are some stories from Israel, Lebanon and the West Bank from 2008 and 2010.
ThailandRedshirt protestors fire home-made weapons at Thai army positions in Bangkok during 2010 anti-government protests (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Stories here from Thailand on those protests, 2011 floods, harsh conditions facing Burmese migrants in Thailand, and more.
HaitiOne of tens of thousands of buildings felled in Port-au-Prince during the Jan.12 2010 earthquake (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Around 220,000 people were killed with 3 million more left homeless. Some reports here from the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
AfricaFarmer moving drought-affected cattle in southern Ethiopia, March 2006 (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Stories from recent years covering issues such as war in Darfur, drought in Kenya, drugs in Ethiopia, slums in Freetown, starting business in Nairobi, independence in South Sudan.
Timor-LesteSupporters of opposition party FRETILIN rally prior to East Timor's July 2012 parliamentary elections (Photo: Simon Roughneen). After the departure of International peacekeepers and the last UN mission, Timor-Leste faces the challenge of using gas and oil revenues to boost living standards and create a more diverse economy, before the resources run out.
The PhilippinesThe Manila metro (Photo: Simon Roughneen). As of mid 2012, The Philippines was growing economically, but relations with China remain thorny. While the country had peaceful and free elections in 2010, issues such as impunity for murders of journalists, corruption, and poverty in urban slum areas persist.
KosovoPosters in Pristina thanking the UK for its role in helping Kosovo break from Serbia (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Serbia and allies such as Russia opposed Kosovo's independence, with protests in Belgrade and Mitrovica right after the Feb. 2008 independence declaration.
IndiaMen waiting to board train from Bangalore, India's IT hub, to Guwahati, a day's travel away in India's northeast (Photo: Simon Roughneen). India's economy has stalled in the past year or so, with the government slow to reform in key sectors. Hundreds of millions of Indians have seen improved living standards in recent years, but, underlining the challenges of governing this vast country, hundreds of millions more remain poor. Some related stories here.
VietnamTraffic in Hanoi (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Vietnam's economy has sputtered in recent years, after a decade of high growth and hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment. Recent corruption scandals and whispers of in-fighting among the ruling Communist Party has been accompanied by more jailings of government critics, highlighting the one-party state's intolerance of dissent.
Syria’s war shadow lengthens over Lebanon – The Edge Review
April 4th, 2013
pdf/digital versions here- http://www.theedgereview.com/
DALHAMIEH, Lebanon – Rolling up a green dress sleeve, 12-year-old Syrian refugee *Reina murmurs “chemical, chemical.” Her arm, what’s left of it, is distorted, wrinked and swollen – looking more more like a gnarled and ancient tree root than a human limb.
Inside her family’s shelter, a grimy hut made from a frame of uneven-sized timbers nailed together and covered in plastic sheetings and tarpaulin, others gather round. Most decline to have their full name quoted out of fear of reprisals.
“Look, look,” says Safaa, 16, pulling down a snot-covered sleeve from her baby daughter Noufa’s arm. Scabs and blotches cover the infant’s wrist and foream. Clasping the child to her chest, she stoops to reveal shins covered in rotten wounds, greying at the edges and crusted over in between.
Over the course of Syria’s two-year civil war, both the government and rebels accuse each other of using chemical weapons, a charge both sides deny. (more…)
L’Aquila, four years on – The Edge Review
March 29th, 2013
pdf/digital versions here- http://www.theedgereview.com/
L’AQUILA, Italy – The three bottles of red wine sit corked on the table, exactly where they were that night almost four years ago, when a deadly earthquake hit this mountainside town in central Italy.
Circling his gaze around to the cracks in the white plaster walls of his house, which he’d moved into just 10 months before the disaster and is still paying for, Lucio Paolucci says that he has no idea when – or even if – he can move back in.
“I hope so, I hope, but by now it is four years, and nothing much has changed,” he says, pointing with resignation to the vino. “I keep them there like that as a reminder, a keepsake.” (more…)
They hoped for a Filipino Pope – The Edge Review
March 29th, 2013
ROME – On a misty Sunday evening in Rome, Sister Gloria Bongkonoy scuttled back and forth from the Santa Pudenziana church to the small parish office next door.
“As you can see, we are busy this weekend,” she grinned, as worshippers filed down the narrow steps from the sloping Via Urbana 20 feet above. The Mass they were gathering for was celebrated not in Italian or Latin or even English, but in Tagalog, the national language of Sister Gloria’s homeland, the Philippines.
When asked about hopes that Manila’s Cardinal Luis Tagle – “pronounced Tag-lay,” as she corrected me – would be elected Pope, Sister Gloria merely smiled and said “we are hoping that the will of God will be done in the conclave.” (more…)
Looking to a Greater Sunrise – The Edge Review
March 22nd, 2013
A decade after independence and weeks after the departure of the United Nations mission and Australian-led peacekeepers, hydrocarbon-dependent Timor-Leste is facing up to life on its own.
It isn’t at all clear the future will be bright, given the challenges the country faces.
Around 90 percent of the country’s annual budget comes from the revenues generated from the Bayu-Undan natural gas field under the Timor Sea. But those resources are likely to be depleted by around 2024. Also likely to be gone by then will be the vital sovereign wealth fund money accrued from the underwater largesse – now almost US$12 billion – if the government keeps spending as it does.
Dismissing criticism that the country’s government was spending too much, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said in an interview just after winning last year’s parliamentary elections that “we need to invest now, while we can, otherwise we will remain stuck at this level, a poor country.” (more…)
Asians wonder about Latin American Pope – The Diplomat
March 18th, 2013
ROME – The day after former Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoglio was elected head of the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics, Ariadna Estetania Cabello Rendace was among a group of Argentinians standing in the evening cold in St Peter’s Square, watching on video screens in the vast cobble-stoned piazza as the new Pope said Mass under the blue-background splendour of Michaelangelo’s Bibical frescoes inside the Sistine Chapel.
“Last night, when they accounced the new papa, we were standing over there, near the fountain,” she said, pointing across the square. “When he said ‘Argentina’, I said ‘What? Who? I cannot believe’.”
Only 12 per cent of the world’s Catholics live in the vast Asia-Pacific region, from where 11 of the 115 cardinal-electors came – with five from India and one each from Australia, Hong Kong, Lebanon, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam (more…)
Young Americans in Rome celebrate new Pope – National Catholic Register
March 15th, 2013
ROME — Joshua Cambria, a convert to Catholicism who hails from Providence, R.I., and a student-services officer at John Cabot University in Rome, said he ran to St. Peter’s upon seeing the white smoke while watching the conclave proceedings on TV.
“I was personally hoping for [Italian Cardinal Angelo] Scola, a grand Ambrosian theologian with an appetite for reform. But, again, I am both surprised and pleased with the outcome of the holy conclave,” said Cambria, who describes himself as being as much of an Italian as an American. (more…)
Vatican Pilgrims Hail the Election of Pope Francis – National Catholic Register
March 13th, 2013
VATICAN CITY — With a Colombian flag tied around her shoulders, Sister Laura Teresa took a last look back at the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, where, moments before, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio emerged to greet the world as Pope Francis.
He is the 266th pope, but the first Latin American, the first Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope and the first non-European since 741.
“Yes, there is history here tonight,” said the religious sister from Bogota. (more…)
Tweets & Smoke Signals: Following the Conclave – PBS Mediashift
March 12th, 2013
ROME – If you’re on Twitter, #conclave has been one of the best places to follow news about the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
On Tuesday evening Rome time, between start of the vote, and the inconclusive end to the first ballot, tweets were coming in at around 40 per minute by my count, a mix of news updates from Rome, smartphone pics from around the Vatican, lewd comments from unknown locations on some of the recent scandals, and some light-hearted gags:
Thinking of electing the new Pope in a Hunger Games format. #conclave
— Prince Charles (@Charles_HRH) March 12, 2013
A Non-European Pope Might Lead an Increasingly Global Church – National Catholic Register
March 11th, 2013
ROME — “We are praying for it,” says Ferdinand de Guzman, standing in the doorway of the Santa Pudenziana church, about a mile from the Colosseum and the Lateran Basilica, two famous Roman landmarks.
The Filipino Catholic was speaking about the possibility that his compatriot, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, could emerge as Pope after the conclave, which starts Tuesday.
“If God wills it, he will be Pope, but if not, we will surely support our new Holy Father whoever that may be,” said de Guzman, from Tarlac in the Philippines but now in his 20th year living in Rome. (more…)
Ahead of Elections, Religious Tensions in Malaysia – National Catholic Register
March 6th, 2013
KUANTAN, Malaysia — Standing at the doorway of the main mosque in the east-coast city of Kuantan, Mohamed Abd Karim’s voice changes pitch, the hushed, affable tones of previous moments giving way to a forceful certainty.
“’Allah’ is for Muslim only,” he says, arms and hands rigid and emphatic, where moments before they lolled by his sides.
He is discussing whether or not Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia can use the word “Allah” when referencing God in services or in literature. The term came to Malaysia many centuries ago, when Arab traders brought Islam and the Arabic language, but it was subsequently adopted by Malaysian Christians in their Malay-language literature. (more…)