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The Belgo-Brazilian construction mafia

  • Work
  • Organised crime
  • International

Several ten thousands of illegal Brasilians work on Belgian construction sites. They are also known as the ‘new Poles’. Journalists Nico Schoofs and Filip Michiels of Vacature Magazine lay bare the shady business behind the exploitation of those cheap labourers.

Xinjiang: a melting pot of cultures at the end of the world

  • Politics
  • Innovation
  • Art

Xinjiang is a province of China, with the statute of ‘Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’ under control of the central Chinese government. It is very Chinese and at the same time it seems not Chinese at all. Xinjiang borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It has a climate that is barely appropriate for human life with temperatures of minus 30 to plus 48, with strong dessert winds that regularly cover everything in dust and sand. It is one of the areas on earth furthest away from the sea.

Guantánamo at Abidjan

  • Politics
  • Conflict
  • International

More than eight years into the Ivorian conflict and on the eve of the presidential elections which are meant to signal the end of violence, Abidjan's former militias are still very much a tangible presence in the southern part of the country. Beyond occasionally voicing their discontent over the unsettled 1000-dollar demobilisation fee, ex-militia members are active in ways that were difficult to predict when they first emerged in the early days of the conflict. In view of the upcoming elect ions it is important to assess the militias' involvement in politics and vice-versa.

Bolivia takes production of lithium into own hands

  • Energy
  • Ecology
  • Politics

Uyuni is a backward region in the South of Bolivia. Bult the salt lake of Uyuni is rich with lithium, the commodity for the production of batteries, soon also for batteries for electrical vehicles. For this raw material a game of chess is being played between some multinational companies, the people of Uyuni and Bolivia's government.

Sustainable on paper: the eucalyptus plantations of Bahia, Brazil

  • Ecology
  • International

NGOs, city administrations and publishers worldwide switch to FSC-certified paper. Ordinary consumers can buy copy and printing paper as well as paper towels and even wallpaper bearing the tree logo. But is the paper's green image justified? An-Katrien Lecluyse and Leo Broers investigated the case in the eucalyptus plantations of the Brazilian state Bahia.

Pakistan

ISLAMABAD -- The American president Obama described a part of Pakistan as ‘the most dangerous place on earth’. The country is dangerous in two ways: dangerous to itself, as few places yield as many bomb attacks and victims, but also dangerous to the rest of the world, as the bombings are exported and Pakistan is a nuclear power, with ‘Islamic’ bombs that are perhaps not sufficiently secured.

Balkan war creates new casualties

  • Politics
  • Conflict

15 years after the war in Bosnia over 7000 refugees still live in ‘temporary’ refugee camps in the heart of Europe. The Bosnians themselves want to forget about them, the NGO’s have left the country, moved on to new conflict zones. But the people are still there. Just like their children, who were born in these camps. They are a new generation of war victims, struggling not only with the trauma of their parents, but also with a lack of education and severe poverty. Domestic violence, abuse, alcoholism and addiction are common practise in these settlements.

Single/Return

  • International
  • Human Rights
  • Politics

Everywhere people are on the move. In search of a better life. Europe is bursting at the seams with new citizens. The old continent is struggling with the immigration phenomenon; and handling it with amazing ineptitude. The question is not: who is welcome and who is not? The question has to be: how are we to accommodate all these newcomers?

Congo. A History

  • Politics
  • International
  • Art

 In July 2009, the American magazine Foreign Policy published its annual list of failed nation-states. The Democratic Republic of Congo occupied fifth place, after notoriously dysfunctional states like Somalia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Chad, and ahead of war-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. This performance was particularly depressing, given the high hopes that surrounded the presidential election of 2006, the first democratic ballot since the country gained independence in 1960.

Heart of darkness revisited

  • Politics
  • Conflict
  • International

More then a hundred years after the publication of Joseph Conrads’ book ’The Heart of Darkness”. Marc Hoogsteyns checks if the situation in Congo has changed. Despite all the trouble the author remarks that there is still hope for this country.