New Orleans is the murder capital of the United States: researchers into 2022’s crime figures say it suffered more homicides per capita than any other major city. Carjackings, armed robberies and other potentially lethal offences are also at sky high levels in ‘The Big Easy’ - a place better known for its happy mix of cuisine, carnival and colonial architecture.
Crime plagues many American cities, and some of these problems are down to familiar causes, with economic disparity, poor education and the prevalence of guns all at play. However, other factors appear unique to New Orleans, such as high incarceration rates; entrenched racial inequality and chronic police understaffing. Many people believe that the chaos and mistrust of authority which followed Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005 has brutalised the generation which grew up in its shadow.
For Crossing Continents, the BBC’s Anna Adams meets those at the sharp end of this crisis in her adoptive city, and asks what went wrong. But as she also discovers, the spirit of the Big Easy can still be resilient, with some local people stepping up to do their failing authorities’ work for themselves in a variety of different social projects. To the backdrop of the city’s ever-present music, this is the story of a community that is literally under fire, and fighting for its life.
Presenter Anna Adams
Producer Mike Gallagher
Sound mix Rod Farquhar
Production coordinator Helena Warwick-Cross
Series editor Penny Murphy
(Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Searching for my son
In the chaos following Turkey’s devastating earthquake in February, Omar was separated from his son Ahmed after both were pulled alive from the collapsed ruins of their home. Omar's wife and older son were killed. But he believes Ahmed could still be alive.
Many children went missing in the aftermath of the earthquake. Some ended up in hospitals or childrens’ homes on the other side of the country and families have spent months trying to locate them. But for many of the estimated 3.5 million Syrian refugees, searching for lost loved ones is even harder - there are language barriers, a lack of money and they often don't have official I.D cards.
Omar has enlisted the help of Nadine, a fashion designer before the quake, whose now trying to reunite Syrian families. She and her team find both success and heartbreak. Emily Wither follows Omar, a Syrian refugee, as he searches for his son.
Presenter: Emily Wither
Producer: Phoebe Keane
Producers in Turkey: Zeynep Bilginsoy, Musab Subuh
Studio mix: Graham Puddifoot
Production coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
Editor: Penny Murphy
(Omar pastes a poster of his son on a lamppost near his destroyed home. It reads: ‘Missing’. Credit: Musab Subuh)
Kenya's Free Money Experiment
Thousands of Kenyan villagers are being given free cash as part of a huge trial being run by an American non-profit, GiveDirectly.
Why? Some aid organisations believe that simply giving people money is one of the most effective ways to tackle extreme poverty and boost development. After all, they argue, local people themselves know best how to use the funds to improve their lives. But does it work? Is it really a long term solution?
In 2018, the BBC visited a Kenyan village whose residents received money at the start of the trial. Five years on, Mary Harper returns to see what’s changed.
Photo: Woman frying fish in village in western Kenya (BBC)
Reporter: Mary Harper
Producer: Alex Last
Studio Manager: Graham Puddifoot
Series Editor: Penny Murphy
Production Coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross
With special thanks to Fred Ooko
Laos: the most bombed country on earth
50 years after the last US bombs fell on Laos, they’re still killing and maiming. In an effort to stop the march of communism, between 1964 and 1973, America dropped over two million tonnes of ordnance on neutral Laos: on average, a planeload of bombs was released every eight minutes, 24 hours a day. This is more than was dropped on Germany and Japan in the entire Second World War.
Laos, today a country of just 6 million people, remains the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita. Five decades after the war, these deadly items remain a persistent threat and daily reality for communities across Laos. More than 20,000 people have been killed or injured by UXO (unexploded ordnance, unexploded bombs, and explosive remnants of war) in Laos since the war ended in 1975, with people still killed and injured every year. Around half the victims are children. But UXO doesn’t just kill and maim, it renders agricultural land useless and prevents economic progress. Although Laos is rich in natural resources, its development has been crippled by the legacy of the war.
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent travels to Laos to tell its story 50 years on.
Producer John Murphy
(Photo: Clearing unexploded bombs in northern Laos. Credit: MAG / Bart Verweij)
Leaving Sri Lanka
Record numbers are fleeing the island in the wake of a brutal economic crisis – perhaps one in twenty five Sri Lankans left last year alone. Some 300,000 went for contracted positions, mostly in the Gulf. But hundreds of thousands of others took less official routes. Many of them get scammed, some even lose their lives, as illegal migrants in what looks like a web of corruption and organised crime.
Ed Butler speaks to some of those who are involved in this industry, who’ve taken this perilous option, and asks why aren’t more Sri Lankans, and even the government, speaking out more loudly about what some see as a national tragedy?
Produced and presented by Ed Butler
Production coordinator Helena Warwick Cross
Series editor Penny Murphy