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.

"There are a few scenarios, and some are nightmarish," said an Arab diplomat in the Syrian capital.

A place trapped in a deepening maelstrom since it was drawn into Syria's uprising in 2012 suffered another devastating blow this month when the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group entered the battle for the area.

Despite reports IS gunmen had withdrawn to their stronghold in the adjoining neighbourhood of Hajar al-Aswad, sources in Damascus say fighting continues among Palestinian factions with IS fighters pushed back, but still present in about 40% of Yarmouk.

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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.

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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.

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Ukraine conflict: Marathon in Minsk

  • 13 February 2015
  • From the section Europe
Fractures between the negotiating parties' positions were reflected in the body language on display
Fractures between the negotiating parties' positions were reflected in the body language on display

There's something about Minsk's opulent Palace of Independence. Even in the dark of night, its shimmering chandeliers and opaque windows can trick you into thinking it's still broad daylight.

Little escapes the bright glare of this cavernous complex.

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Ukraine conflict: Back to Minsk with so much at stake

  • 11 February 2015
  • From the section Europe
An elderly woman walks past vehicles destroyed in shelling between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government forces in Donetsk on 11 February 2015
Civilians have been caught up in intensifying violence in Donestk

It is five months since Minsk gave its name to a peace deal for Ukraine.

Now key players are meeting here for what has been widely called "one of the last chances" to stop a widening trail of destruction and death, which threaten the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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Paris attack: From 9/11 to 1/11

  • 12 January 2015
  • From the section Europe
Man holding a sign with "Je suis Charlie" in Paris
There is hope that France has found a new solidarity after the attacks in Paris

In France, many reached for the phrase recognised by all - 9/11.

"Le onze Septembre Francais" declared the banner headline in France's Le Monde newspaper. "A French September 11th."

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A broken system for a broken people

A Syrian Kurdish woman crosses the border between Syria and Turkey at the south-eastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, 23 September 2014
Millions have been forced to flee their homes because of the Syrian conflict

"They're no longer living. They feel they are dying. That's why they're willing to take the risk."

That's what I heard from Metin Corabatir, founder of the Ankara-based Refugee Centre for Asylum and Migration, in the last hours of 2014 as a rusting livestock freighter, packed with nearly 1,000 exhausted Syrians, was rescued off the coast of Italy.

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The year of living far too dangerously

  • 29 December 2014
  • From the section Africa
from left, Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of al-Jazeera, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appear in a defendants' cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo. The United States and other countries on Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Three journalists who were working for al-Jazeera remain behind bars

There's an old thriller called The Year of Living Dangerously, set in Indonesia's civil war during the 1960s. It tells a suspenseful tale of an Australian journalist despatched to replace a colleague at a dangerous time.

In the end, injured and in hiding, he makes a narrow escape from Jakarta in the wake of a failed military coup.

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