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China: Yellow Skies

You can smell a sandstorm. As I woke this morning, my throat was drier than normal and the smell of dust and sand had crept into my room whilst I was sleeping. I opened my curtains expecting to see the Yellow River out of my window but all I could see was a haze of yellow light.

Sandstorms have been one of the major problems as a result of desertification in China. As the spring winds blow, dry and degraded topsoil is picked up and thrown into the air to be carried in immense clouds of sand and dust.

Caught in Pakistan's Crossfire

The day is closing in Jellozai and children run along the narrow dusty rows of UNICEF-stamped tents trying to squeeze a little more play time out of the dying evening. Some 43,000 people live in this refugee camp just outside of Peshawar, after fleeing violence in the tribal regions not far from here.

Beginning last summer, intensified clashes between Taliban militants and the Pakistani military — as well as U.S. drone attacks — have created chaos in the ungoverned tribal belt between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistani Politics: Why Women's Voices Matter

In the gray light of my first morning in Pakistan, the thick salty smell of sulfur introducing me to the seaside city of Karachi, the streets were full of men.

With few exceptions it was men congregating in front of the still dark airport, men piled onto buses carnival decorated with Technicolor and chrome and men weaving through the thickening traffic on motor bikes and rickshaws.

I thought back to my trip to Pakistan in 2006, when one of my greatest regrets was that I hadn't had the opportunity to meet and hang out with more women.

China: Environmental Refugees

Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is a small province lying in Loess highlands of north-central China. Dry and desert-like, it is China's poorest province and is the least visited by outsiders.

I am here this week to visit the isolated town of Hongsibao, which lies 150km south of the province's capital Yinchuan, completely surrounded by dry and arid land. Ten years ago, this town didn't exist.

Gypsies Relocated by UN Remain on Toxic Land

NORTH MITROVICA, Kosovo — Displaced by conflict and stranded by bureaucratic inertia, dozens of Roma families remain on toxic land 10 years after they were relocated there by the United Nations following the Kosovo war.

China: The Black Disaster

"The dryness affects our lives a lot. We call it the 'black disaster', which means there is no grass. On the grassland, we are afraid of this disaster", says Zamusu, a farmer who has lived on the central grasslands of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region, in Northern China, for the whole of his life. "When I was young, there was much more grass than now", he continues, in what seems to be a statement echoing across the 70 million acres (28million ha) of the gently undulating grasslands that dominate the Xilamuren steppes north of the region's capital, Hohhot.

Salt of This Earth

Iraq's agricultural sector is in serious trouble. The crisis is much worse than one bad growing season, and the explanation goes far beyond drought. David Enders reports from the formerly fertile crescent.

Guatemala: A Divided Country's Hidden Hunger

The little girl does not smile. She doesn't have the energy. Hopefully she will soon.

She is in a rehabilitation clinic in Jocotan, Chiquimula, a province in the far east of Guatemala, near to Honduras. Her name is Domitila, she is nine years old. Her body is emaciated, she is fragile. Patches of her hair are missing, the veins in her legs show through her skin. Her face has a perpetual look of sorrow – the muscles are too weak to change expression. Other children in her family were in similar shape, the nurse tells me.