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Pakistan Police, on Front Lines of COVID-19 Fight, Lack Gear

Police are on the front lines of fighting the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan. The government has imposed a partial lockdown and restrictions on movement and travel, authorizing the police to implement those orders. Yet across the country, these law enforcers lack adequate safety equipment and face other issues. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the capital, Islamabad. 

Banning Consumption of Wildlife in Asia Difficult, Despite COVID Pandemic

Scientists say COVID-19 likely originated through "animal to human" transmission at a wild animal market in Wuhan, China.  New studies by the Global Virome Project, a worldwide effort to increase preparedness for pandemics, indicate the world can expect about five new animal-borne pathogens to infect humans each year, creating a sense of urgency to curb the wild animal trade. Steve Sandford files this report for VOA from Krabi, Thailand.

Organization Offers Free Education to Pakistan's Street Children

Millions of children in Pakistan are deprived of an education due to financial reasons. Some are even forced into child labor to earn enough to feed their families. While the government does provide public schools, non-government organizations like Dosti are also helping. VOA's Nazar ul Islam has more in this report from Peshawar, Pakistan narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.

World's Largest Lockdown Takes Effect in India Thursday

India is under lockdown following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s order for people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. India's 21-day ban on venturing out puts nearly one-fifth of the world's population under lockdown. VOA correspondent Mariama Diallo has more.

Reporter’s Notebook: Life Gets Harder for World’s Most Vulnerable People

As journalists, our duty is often to witness the suffering of families torn apart by wars and other disasters.  Now, as millions of people around the world stay home to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, for many of the world’s most vulnerable people, life is getting even harder.  Humanitarian and government workers cannot help if they cannot leave their homes and more often than ever before in modern history, journalists are not on the scene.  VOA’s Heather Murdock has this report from Istanbul.

Thai Activists Protest New Xayaburi Dam on Mekong River

A series of dams on the transboundary Mekong River has reduced water levels, damaging fisheries and causing other environmental problems for the people who depend on the waterway for their livelihoods and food.  Now, as the latest dam, the Lao-owned Xayaburi, begins operations on the Lower Mekong, a Thai activist group is going to court to slow down the sale of electricity to Thai companies. Steve Sandford speaks to those affected.

7 Years After Gang Rape, India Women's Safety Still Elusive

Four men were hanged Friday, seven years after being convicted of the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi. The case turned the spotlight on sexual violence against women in India. Women in the Indian capital, called one of the most unsafe cities for women in the world, say the situation has not improved.

Journalists say Police Beat Them at Baku Protest

Journalists covering a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, on Wednesday said police beat them and took their equipment while dispersing a crowd that had gathered to demand the release of an Azerbaijani businessman arrested in Turkey.At least 10 journalists were harassed by the police, freelance journalist Tabriz Mirzoyev told the Turan Information Agency.Radio Azadlig (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Azerbaijani Service) journalist Ramin Deko said he was left with hand and leg injuries and bruises on his face after police beat him.“There were quiet at the beginning, but then they received an order and they started to attack and beat journalists,” Deko said. “They took my phone away and threw me on the asphalt. They pushed me down and started to kick me and beat me.”Footage showed police pushing, kicking, and forcibly removing journalists from the protest.Approximately 30 people had gathered outside the embassy to protest the recent arrest of Mubariz Mansimov Gurbanoglu, the founder of the Istanbul sea freight company Palmali.Reuters reported that a Turkish court ordered his arrest over alleged ties to the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of being behind an attempted 2016 coup.Elshad Hajiyev from the Baku City Police press service told VOA that police are investigating and that he would comment “after the investigation.”Journalists in Azerbaijani have previously been beaten or harassed while covering protests.In February, the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that at least 18 journalists were “obstructed and sometimes physically attacked” while covering protests and allegations of fraud in Azerbaijan’s snap parliamentary elections.RSF reported that journalists were arrested and beaten when authorities broke up sit-in protests by  opposition candidates outside of the Central Election Committee after the vote, and that at least eight journalists were attacked or blocked from covering events on the day of the election.Attacks on journalists were among the human rights issues cited by the U.S. State Department in its annual report on human rights in Azerbaijan. As well as restrictions on the press and internet, the report highlight issues “including violence against journalists, harassment and incarceration of journalists on questionable charges.”The incident outside the Turkish Embassy came a day after Azerbaijan released investigative journalist Afghan Mukhtarli early from a six-year prison sentence and allowed him to leave for Germany, where he was reunited with his wife and daughter.The international community, including Harlem Desir, the OSCE representative on Freedom of the Media, ...

Pakistan Economy Hurt by Shopping Mall Closures in USA, Europe

As malls and shopping centers close in Europe and America because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ripples are being felt much farther downstream. In countries such as Pakistan, a struggling economy that exports mainly to Europe or the US, orders are already getting cancelled. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

Thousands of Afghan Refugees Flee Coronavirus Outbreak in Iran

The U.N. International Organization for Migration reports that over 83,000 Afghans have returned to Afghanistan from Iran since January 1, a significant rise primarily caused by the fear of the quickly spreading coronavirus in Iran. VOA’s Khalil Noorzai files this report from Herat, Afghanistan, narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.

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