Yearly Archives: 2014

  • Al Qaeda’s deadly legacy in Ras al-Ayn

    December 9, 2013 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    Kurdish authorities say Al Qaeda-linked groups planted dozens of landmines and booby traps before retreating from the outskirts of Ras al-Ayn early November.

    Here, the distressed sister of a YPG fighter killed by one such device in Tell Halaf.

    Darbasiyah, November 19, 2013


  • Story of Deir Ezzor’s Delivery Duo Wins Top Radio Prize at Bayeux War Correspondent Awards

    October 16, 2013 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

  • A sad addendum

    March 22, 2013 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    I had just returned to Lesvos after spending the week with Syrian refugees on their Odyssey out of hell.


    My mind ripe with buoyant and broken voices, I was trying to put together a radio story on that family of 16 Syrian-Palestinians I had met outside the local police station. How to cram into a 5′ report their journey from Damascus to Istanbul to Lesvos? How to make the most of the hours of tape I had recorded traveling with them from the Greek island to Athens, in search of everything from a roof to sleep under, a pro-bono lawyer, a SIM card and a decent shawarma place?


    As the story was slowly falling into places, I found time to catch up with Efi, an activist who’s doing much with little to help those who arrive every day on Lesvos’ shores. And I took one more good look at the glittering Mediterranean before taking the ferry boat back to Turkey.


    I wish I could have seen them.


    9 Syrians died off of the coast of Lesvos that day. Like dozens of others every week, they embarked on a dingy boat from Turkey, then went missing. Relatives searched for them until the sea gave 6 bodies back earlier this week.


    A 3 and a 7 year old girl, their mother along with a pregnant 17 year old, a father and his young son.


    This man is still looking for his child. He knows he’s dead. He just doesn’t want the fish to eat his son’s body.


  • Europe Within Reach, The View From Turkey

    March 13, 2013 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    A view on the island of Lesvos, some 8km away from the Turkish coast.

  • Irish Emigration at “Famine Level”

    February 24, 2013 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    Just fished out this interesting story from the  Irish Independent which claims that with more than 200 people leaving the island every day last year, the level of Irish emigration in 2012 has reached that of the “Great Famine.”


    Quite a stunning parallel between the state of today’s austerity-driven Europe and one of the 19th century’s largest humanitarian disaster in the Old Continent.


    The Great Famine lasted nearly a decade and drove between 1 and 2 million Irish out of their country. Most sought refuge from starvation to Great Britain, Australia and North America. This time again, England and Australia are the destination of choice for most of the 87,000 who emigrated last year.


    As I’m heading to Greece next week, I’ll keep my ears open for signs of a similar exodus there… With a quarter of its population currently unemployed and over 50% of working-age Greeks under 26 jobless, it’s hard to imagine Greeks aren’t voting with their feet as well.


  • Libya’s “Pearl of the Desert”

    January 1, 2013 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS



  • “No Ghana”: The road out of Nkoranza

    August 2, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS


    Nested in Ghana’s deep countryside, the sleepy town of Nkoranza has seen over the past 3 decades tens of thousands of its residents depart for greener pastures (though literally speaking, it’s hard to imagine such thing exists!)


    Since the 80′s, emigration has thrived on the town’s under-developement and high unemployment rate. Donyina Koranteng, the head of a local organization for Libyan returnees, says Nkoranza seemed so cut off from the rest of the country when he was a kid that locals gave it the nickname “No Ghana.”


    That was before the road (above) connecting Nkoranza to Ghana’s North-South highway was built… But little has changed since.


    Nearly half of the Ghanaian migrant workers who fled Libya last year hailed from Nkoranza and villages around. And some are on their way North again, undeterred by the risks they face on the road, and in post-Revolution Libya.


  • Ishumar

    June 11, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    After a two-month long journey that took me from Bamako to Burkina’s remote Sahel region to Ghana’s deep countryside, I’m about to depart West Africa and head back to Libya.


    No “travel digest” post here… I’d rather point out to that old NYT article on the Tuareg band Tinariwen’s latest album, Tassili, which has carried me through many hours on the road over the past couple of months.


    The story retraces the coming of age of the band (formed in the late 70’s in Libya’s Tuareg refugee-settlements-turned-guerrilla-boot-camps) and of its latest production.


    With “Tassili,” Tinariwen, whose music is a hard-rocking hybrid of Berber, Arab, Western and black African styles, has sought to return to its beginnings. Named for a spectacular area of canyons and sandstone arches near Algeria’s border with Libya, the CD was rehearsed and recorded out of doors there, in tents and around campfires much like those where the group’s founding members, political exiles then living in refugee settlements, first came together to play.

    “We wanted to go back to our origins, to the experience of ishumar,” which means exile or being adrift, explained Eyadou ag Leche, the band’s bass player.


    Ten months after its release, Tassili has become a worldwide hit and won a Grammy Award for best world music album while a momentous sequence of events rocked the region.


    I’ve had a chance during this fellowship-sponsored West African trip to explore at great lengths the migration-based connections between Libya’s uprising and Mali’s unrest: A “Tuareg-friendly” dictator toppled and the homecoming of thousands of Tuaregs who fought for and finally imposed what they had long been asking for: an independent state (publicly supported by the way by some Tinariwen members)


    Yet, history still is repeating itself for Tuaregs. Independent state or not, hundreds of thousands have been forced into that “ishumar experience” once more.


    Worst, the scarce reports coming out of North Mali describes the emptiness and lifelessness of formerly vibrant towns like Timbuktu, now in the hands of extreme Islamist groups.


    Painful kicker in the recently published personal story out of Timbuktu of AP journalist and friend Baba Ahmed.


    After five days, the convoy I came with left Timbuktu. As we rolled out of town, around 50 young people jumped on the back of the trucks, taking advantage of the free ride south.

    Another group leaving the place they grew up in, I thought with a heavy heart. Another group deciding they will be better off somewhere else.


  • From Burkina to Ghana

    June 3, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    Sahel Reserve, Northern Burkina Faso

       ”African Heroes,” Ouagadougou

    Ghana & Burkina Flags                

       Mohamed Murtala & baby girl

    Bolgatanga, Northern Ghana        

            Coco drink at the bus station

    On the road South, Ghana            

  • “Now that emigration has become a cinch, it’s a no-brainer. Just go already.”

    May 18, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    A slightly off-track post this morning with this interesting oped published a few days ago on FT Magazine. It hails emigration as “probably the quickest way of improving your career prospects, both now and for your lifetime” and is particularly addressed to the unemployment-striken youth around Europe.


    “About a fifth of young people in western countries are unemployed. In Spain and Greece, about half are. They could stick around at home, perhaps eventually find work, and then spend their careers paying for the previous generation’s pensions, healthcare and debt. Or they could emigrate. It is hard to make a start in Brazil, Canada or Germany, but the alternative might be watching TV in your parents’ house for the next four years.”


    What baffles the author is why young people in countries that have been migration-prone for decades seem reluctant to go that route while it’s become so much easier and (less scarier) to do so.


    “People have emigrated since the first humans walked out of Africa, but since the 1990s emigration has changed its nature. It’s no longer forever. Nowadays, you get on a cheap flight, Skype your mother from the airport, and if you don’t like the place, fly home again.”


    Makes me want to head back to Greece soon and ask what stops them from taking the plunge…


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