Saturday 12 December 2015

The Road to Wigan Pier, via Aleppo

My latest feature on Syrian refugees for AlJazeera, this time one those who have chosen to come to the UK - even though countries like Germany and Sweden seem much more obvious destinations because of their comparatively generous asylum policies. Only about 5,000 Syrians have been granted asylum in the UK since the war started in 2011. 

Friday 20 November 2015

Seal-spotting along the Thames

Some things are much better now than they were in the good old days. Like sewage systems, for example. How the Thames was brought back to life after being declared biologically dead in the 1950s (and became a haven for seals, cormorants and even dolphins):

Monday 19 October 2015

Scientists vs art forgers

"We created a social network – a Facebook of the early 16th Century."

Really enjoyed writing this feature on the latest techniques in the fight against art forgery for the BBC. It's not every day that you get to visit a secret little studio in South London, look at pigments from Pompeii and hear all about social networks in Renaissance Florence.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Middle-class Syrian refugees start back at square one...

My feature for Al Jazeera about Syria's scattered middle class: a banker, a business student and an archaeologist talk about their lives as refugees.

Monday 21 September 2015

British grassroots efforts to help refugees

Halal pot noodles, waterproofs, organic tomato puree: Londoners join the effort to help refugees on the continent. Recent feature for Al Jazeera. Here's how you can support one of the grassroots organisations - through crowdfunding.

'Where else should I live?' The refugees housed at Dachau

My feature for the Guardian on the refugees housed in the "herb garden" at Dachau, a former Nazi slave-labour plantation in the grounds of the concentration camp. It's one of those stories that will stay with me for a long time. Some of the people I spoke to want the site to be a memorial and exhibition space; others say the space is needed as social housing. But the interview that touched me most was with Ashkan, a young Afghan man who lives at Dachau, and his girlfriend, Dania.

While the German officials around them were trying to find a balance between commemorating past wrongs and addressing present needs, Ashkan and Dania were caught in their own, personal struggle to reconcile the past with the present. A timely reminder that a refugee's journey doesn't end when she steps off the train in Germany.

Monday 14 September 2015

7 months pregnant... and on the run

Kamal, 2 months old

My piece for AlJazeera on the refugee mothers who risk it all to take their babies to safety:

"It’s better to walk for 15 days than to be killed by a bomb."

I spent a few hours with them last week in Munich. First at the station, then at their emergency shelter, then in a vast, dark industrial park as the group of fourteen adults, two infants and a toddler tried to figure out what to do next. They'd banded together along the route, forming a sort of baby trek as they were the slowest and weakest on the trail. The two young mothers were still breastfeeding their infants, 2 months and 3 months old respectively...

I asked them how they even washed the babies along the way, you can read the reply in the piece.

Saturday 12 September 2015

The Syrians who've made a new life in the West

"I always say, Germany is my mother and my father. When I came here, Germany gave me food, it gave me somewhere to sleep."

Another story I wrote for the Indie out of Munich - the Syrian refugee who is trying to reunite his family, train by train.