Short stories from around the world: 2016

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Short news stories from around the world: 2016

Maybe you missed these stories and photos last year. by Jo Lateu.

1. Africa

South Africa


© Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

At a farm outside Klerksdorp, workers carefully make a tranquillized black rhino lie down. Then they cut off the horns, to stop people killing it. Because they have been doing this, not so many rhinos have been killed. In the first seven months of 2016, 702 dead rhinos were found compared to 796 in the first seven months of 2015. But the Department of Environmental Affairs said that more elephants have been killed. Between January and July 2016, 414 people were arrested for killing animals.



Fernando Del Berro

An old lady walks across the border from the Spanish Melilla to Morocco. Thousands of people walk across every day, taking on their backs as much as 80 kilograms of goods to sell. If they go across the border to trade, they do not pay tax – it is legal to carry packages if they are ‘personal baggage’. But for refugees the border is nearly impossible to cross. In 2016 Spain increased security to stop asylum seekers getting into the European Union from North Africa. Melilla now has 10-metre fences and water around it and guards protect it.



Edward McAllister/Reuters

After the election in 2009, there were protests against the government. And this happened again, after the election in September 2016. Ali Bongo kept the presidency – he won by less than one per cent of the votes. The parliament building in the capital, Libreville, was burnt in fighting between police and people supporting the opposition candidate, Jean Ping. Three people were killed and more than 1,000 were arrested. International observers said the election was not fair because Bongo was able to use more money and more media.

2. Europe & Central Asia



Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

Children have physiotherapy in a health centre outside Minsk. This area was contaminated after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. UNICEF says that children born in Belarus after the disaster get more thyroid cancers and have many other health issues because of the radioactivity. Last year was the 30th anniversary of the disaster. They are arguing now about the construction of a new nuclear power plant on the border with Lithuania. Politician Mikalai Ulasevich said that it will kill many people.



Cagdas Erdogan/Majority World

In April, there were protests in Gazi (a mainly Kurdish and Alevi district of Istanbul). There are regular demonstrations there area against the way the government treats ethnic minorities. In 2016, President Erdoğan’s 2016 increased security. This has been hard for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. In May Erdoğan said the peace negotiations (stated in 2012, but stopped again) would not start again. He said the military would continue to fight until all the rebels were dead.



Alex Masi

Children at a summer camp in Azov hold their arms across their chests as they shout: ‘Ukraine, holy mother of heroes, come into my heart... You, holy of holies, are my life and my happiness.’ The country is training the next generation of fighters for the continuing war between the government and rebels who support Russia. In August, 50 young people aged 8 to 16 learnt to shoot and use weapons at the camp. They also did survival training and learnt more about fighting. 9,700 people have died in the conflict before November.

3. Americas

United States


Vlad Sokhin/Panos

A girl on a boardwalk in the indigenous Alaskan village of Newtok, July 2016. The frozen ground (‘permafrost’) over most of Alaska is melting because of climate change. When it melts, the ground sinks, so there a problems with roads and buildings. Also a lot of greenhouse gases are released. They were going to move the 350 people who live in Newtok to a new area in 2013. But local politicians didn’t all agree, so they stopped this programme. The local school is at the highest point in the village – this could be under water by the end of 2017.

Cuba/Costa Rica


Carlos Jasso/Reuters

A Cuban migrant couple in a tent at a shelter in Paso Canoas. About 8,000 Cubans had to stay in Costa Rica at the beginning of the year. They had to wait for Nicaragua to let them continue their journey to the United States. US law now allows Cubans to stay in the US if they can get into the country. But Donald Trump will probably try to change this when he is president. In February Trump told a reporter that it is wrong to allow Cubans to come into the US under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act. A few days after Fidel Castro died in November, Trump also said he would put sanctions on Cuba again.



Carlos Vera/Reuters

A demonstrator looks in the eyes of a riot police officer at a protest on the anniversary in September of the military coup in 1973. This photo went viral on social media. Some people said this girl is like the man who stood in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square in China in 1989. But Chileans protested about many other things too in 2016 eg. students who wanted changes in education; taxi drivers who didn’t want Uber; the fishing community wanted the government to do something about the ‘red tide’ algae that made seafood toxic; and hundreds of thousands of people said how angry they were about the pension system.

4.South Asia



Mahesh Kumar A/AP/Press Association Images

A rag-picker collects picks up rags at a dump in Hyderabad, October 2016. Also in October there were no rubbish collections (because of problems between city officials and legislators) so there was a lot of rubbish in the streets. But this is only a small part of the country’s crisis with rubbish: India produces 140,000 tonnes of waste every day – a lot of it goes to landfill. They only collect 83 per cent of the waste and only treat 29 per cent of that. In January, you could see the smoke from space from a very big fire at a landfill site in Mumbai (with rubbish as high as an 18-storey building).



Danish Ismail/Reuters

This man was injured in fighting between Indian police and protesters in July. He’s in a hospital in Srinagar. There was a lot of violence in Kashmir in the summer. This was after Indian security killed Burhan Wani (a leader of Kashmiri separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen). After this murder, The Times of India said 85 people died in protests, there were 13,000 protesters and 4,000 security personnel were injured. India controls Kashmir and brought in more controls (curfews) in July. These continued until November in some areas.



G M B Akash/Panos

Moin Miah is 75. He is holding onto the stem of a banana-palm and he floats in flood water looking for all the things he lost. Millions of people suffered in the floods, from the monsoon, in northern and central Bangladesh in July and August. At least 250,000 homes were damaged, and the water carried away 17,000 homes. The 2016 World Risk Report says that Bangladesh is the fifth-riskiest place to live (after Vanuatu, Tonga, the Philippines and Guatemala).

5. East Asia & Pacific

Solomon Islands


Vlad Sokhin/Panos

On Guadalcanal island in the Ontong Java Atoll, people who live in Lord Howe Settlement come to the beach. There are a lot of storm surges here and the sea level is rising. So the people are thinking about moving to the capital, Honiara. But only 2,400 people speak the local Ontong Java language. There are 69 indigenous languages in Java (plus the official English, that only two per cent of the population speak, and Solomon Pidgin, the lingua franca). Community leaders are worried that they will lose their Polynesian identity and languages if the young people grow up in a place with no link to the land they always lived in.

Sri Lanka


Eranga Jayawardena/AP/Press Association Images

Planting mangrove trees in Kalpitiya. This is part of a big plan to protect 15,000 hectares of mangrove forests. These trees grow in seawater, and they help protect the land. Also, they take in carbon, so the effects of global warming are not so bad. They can also cut the bad effects of natural disasters eg. when the Asian tsunami hit the east coast of Sri Lanka in 2004. Everyone now has to protect the mangroves. Cutting the trees is against the law. In July 2016, President Maithripala Sirisena opened Sri Lanka’s first mangrove museum.



Jorge Silva/Reuters

In the Klong Prem high-security prison in Bangkok in July, the prisoners work. In October 2016, there were about 300,000 people in prison in Thailand, or 443 per 100,000 people in the country (Canada has 114 per 100,000; the US 693). This is too many people for the 144 prisons (official total capacity is 217,000). Paiboon Koomchaya, Justice Minister of Thailand, said in July that the strict government drug laws were not working. He wants to change the law so methamphetamine is no longer a Category 1 drug. If they do this, the people the police catch selling or possessing this drug will stay in prison for less time.

6. Middle East



Ali Hashisho/Reuters

A snail on rotting oranges after some rain in southern Lebanon in November. In a NASA report in March, it said that the drought in the eastern Mediterranean drought, (which started in 1998 and is still affecting Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey) is the worst in the last 900 years. Scientists studied tree rings – these are thin in drought years and thick in years when there is plenty of water – to see if this drought is unusual. Their conclusion was that humans caused some of this climate change.



Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

A woman looking into a tent. Houthi loyalists in March were protesting against the air strikes by Saudi Arabia in Sana’a, capital of Yemen. In September, Houthis said that the first women’s militia unit had started. Women in Yemen have suffered a lot of discrimination and violence for years, but this has become worse in the civil war: the UNFPA said there were 8,031 recorded incidents of gender-based violence between January and September 2016. The real number is probably much higher because people tell women not to report abuse.



Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Like a Ninja: a Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip jumps with a sword. He is showing his skills in front of the buildings that Israel destroyed in 2014. The teenagers have had martial arts training at local clubs for the last two years. They have decided to form a team and do regular shows. They hope people will invite them to go to international contests. Youth unemployment in Palestine was 42 per cent in 2016, so many young people are poor and have no opportunities.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).