The children scarred by war

Syed, aged 12

A wasteland of rubble still bears testament to last summer's conflict between Israel and Gaza. But there are deeper scars - damage that can't be seen and may never heal.

A week after the fighting began, Syed's life was shattered on the day the 12-year-old, his 11-year-old brother Mohamed, and their six cousins went to Gaza's beach to play football.

It was the natural playground for young boys from a family of fishermen which has lived off the sea for generations.

"We didn't know that beach was dangerous," says Syed - his eyes still, round, sad pools, as he remembers 16 July, one of the most harrowing days of the war.

By the end of that day, Mohamed and three of his cousins were dead. An Israeli investigation said its air force mistook the children for Hamas fighters when a pilot fired twice at a "compound" next to the beach.

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Can powers meet the 'real' deadline on Iran's nuclear programme?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at a hotel in Vienna, Austria June 30, 2015.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have led the marathon talks

Will Vienna be the venue for the end of a 12-year standoff over Iran's nuclear programme?

"We're not there yet," cautions a Western official, as talks continue into the first week of July and past a self-imposed deadline of 30 June.

Read full article Can powers meet the 'real' deadline on Iran's nuclear programme?

Afghanistan's leaders face battle for peace

Afghan security personnel run at the scene of a suicide attack by Taliban militants on the Afghan parliament building in Kabul on 22 June 2015
The timing of the attack on the parliament in Kablul was hugely significant

Will there be more and more months of horrific violence in Afghanistan, or will there be historic negotiations?

This year has already seen some of the most important Taliban gains on the battlefield, and the most significant period of informal talks.

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Yemen conflict: A passport out of war

  • 21 May 2015
  • From the section Africa
Refugees from Yemen arrive in Djibouti port - May 2015

A human tide reaches the shores of Djibouti almost every day.

Waves of Yemenis are taking to the sea in packed yachts or wooden dhows meant to ferry fishermen or livestock, not a people fleeing for their lives.

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Countdown to Iran nuclear deal - but resistance remains

Delegates at nuclear talks in Lausanne (02/04/15)
The so-called p5+1 and Iran agreed a framework deal this month after marathon talks

A historic deal with Iran over its nuclear programme is now within reach - but it's still uncertain whether this rare chance to resolve a major security challenge of our time through diplomacy will be grasped.

This week, the prospect of a final deal, which must be reached by the end of June, could be pulled in two different directions.

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Syria conflict: Fighting for a future for Yarmouk

Yarmouk, 6 April
Yarmouk, once a home for 150,000 Palestinian refugees, has been devastated by Syria's war

A refugee camp which grew into the liveliest of neighbourhoods is now crumbling into the deadliest of quarters as life drains away by the day.

Never has the future of Yarmouk looked so uncertain for the community of Palestinian refugees as well as Syrians who call it home.

Read full article Syria conflict: Fighting for a future for Yarmouk

Sense of history as Iran nuclear talks go to the wire

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi at the nuclear talks in Lausanne (30 March 2015)

In a world where all too many conflicts are in search of solution there is a palpable sense history could be made here.

If a framework for an Iranian nuclear deal is agreed this week in this serene Swiss setting of Lausanne, it could pave the way for one of the most significant, but most sensitive, accords in decades.

Read full article Sense of history as Iran nuclear talks go to the wire

Tunisia museum attack tests transition

  • 22 March 2015
  • From the section Africa
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi lays a wreath in memory of those killed at the Bardo museum attack, 22 March 2014
The president says "we need national reconciliation"

"Degage!" One word says a great deal.

Four years ago, in Tunisia, you heard this forceful command, in French, a lot. It was the rallying cry of "go away" against authoritarian rule during the unprecedented uprising that came to be known as the Arab Spring.

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Searching for light in war-torn Syria

Residents of Syria's besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus. File photo
Millions of people across Syria are now relying on international humanitarian aid

A dark shadow falls across Syria as a punishing war enters its fifth year.

It's not just that satellite imagery has revealed the night sky is 83% darker because so much infrastructure has been destroyed, and millions forced to flee their homes .

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Lahore Literary Festival: Book lovers defy the bombers

  • 24 February 2015
  • From the section Asia
Crowds at the Lahore Literary Festival
The Alhamra Arts Centre hosted the third Lahore Literary Festival

A suicide bomber struck in the Pakistani city of Lahore, just two days before its annual literary festival was due to start.

The night before, the provincial government tried to stop the three-day festival from going ahead, insisting it was not safe.

Read full article Lahore Literary Festival: Book lovers defy the bombers