Islamic State fighters in Libya have abducted at least 540 refugees in six separate ambushes over the past 18 months. Many of the women captives are being turned into sex slaves to reward the extremist group’s warriors. Reuters heard first-hand accounts from nine such women, now seeking asylum in Europe. Their stories are the first corroborated accounts of how Islamic State turns refugee women into sex slaves, using them as human currency to attract and reward fighters in Libya.
"Peace Valley" cemetery in Iraq is the largest graveyard in the world. As so-called Islamic State continues its campaign of violence, it is growing at double its usual rate. This Reuters photo series shows the scale of the burials.
Even as Japanese authorities insist they leave, Kurdish migrants are working without permits on tax-funded government projects. Japan’s strict immigration rules combined with a shrinking work population has spawned a black market in labour. They inhabit a legal twilight zone, locked in lengthy struggles with an immigration system that recognised just 27 people as refugees last year. Like most Kurds, Balibay is on provisional release work without contracts, is paid in cash and can be laid off without warning.
At Winthrop in northern Washington state, rookies are drilled through a five-week training programme to become smokejumpers – firefighters who arrive by parachute to extinguish forest fires. On one hot day in June, Washington resident and freelance photographer, David Ryder, captured what it takes to be “the elite of the elite.”
With Rome feeling the heat of soaring temperatures this summer, volunteers have set up a camp for boat migrants from Africa in sight of one of the city’s busy train stations. Known as the Baobab centre, scenes of men, women and children sleeping on mattresses in the road have become commonplace. With local residents voicing their frustrations of the rising numbers of migrants and lack of sanitary facilities and security, pressure is being focused on city government officials to find more suitable shelter locations.
Conservative Italian parliamentarian Elvira Savino is fighting to enact laws that would see parents who insist on a vegan diet for their children risk up to four years in jail. "I just find it absurd that some parents are allowed to impose their will on children in an almost fanatical, religious way, often without proper scientific knowledge or medical consultation," she said.
China's emergence as the world's low-cost producer and export superpower in 2001 dealt a heavy blow to traditional industrial communities in the US. Poverty levels doubled in some areas. But some of the places hardest hit by the "China shock", including the furniture hub of Hickory in North Carolina, are beginning to claw back jobs. Reuters reports from Hickory, where 2,800 manufacturing jobs have been created since 2010.
Syria is sending seven athletes to Rio to compete in the Olympics Games this month. But the selection committee is run by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, so those in rebel-held areas are excluded. Reuters meets Syrian athletes who sacrificed their careers to fight against the government – and those who are competing as part of the refugee team. [Includes photo series.]
In the troubled fringes of the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, an aspiring priest is using his faith to reach out to young gang members and at-risk youth, and bring them into his "Gang of Christ." It is a risky vocation, but deacon Jose Luis Guerra says "My alba is my shield", referring to his white religious robes. Reuters joins him on a tours the city’s backstreets with some of his 15 fellow missionaries, two-thirds of whom are ex-gang members themselves.
Some 40 billion reais ($12.3 billion) has been spent on projects for Rio to host South America's first Olympic Games, which kick off on August 5. But for those who live in the slums of the sprawling metropolis of roughly 12 million people, there are few public spaces for sports or recreation. However, kite flying enthusiasts have found an unusual retreat – the city’s cemetery, far removed from the streets, where gunfights can break out among the city's rival drug gangs and police.
Among the many problems Gaza faces, from conflict to homelessness, power cuts and a lack of fresh water, Saeed el-Aer has dedicated himself to an unusual one: stray dogs. He has spent months and thousands of dollars searching for stray dogs, winning their confidence, feeding them and restoring them to health. Inspired by his work, many Gazans are now volunteering at the kennels Aer has created 2,000 square-meter farm south of the city.
If necessity is the mother of invention, eight years of a crippling recession and dwindling work prospects has compelled at least some Greeks to reboot, switch professions and innovate to survive. Reuters meets entrepreneurs creating handmade wooden spectacle frames in Syros, gold-infused organic honey from the rolling hills of Evoia and a carpenter in Athens who turned to his lifetime hobby of crafting fishing spearguns after his business faltered.
Once a week, a group of South Korean soldiers near the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean peninsula trade army boots for ballet shoes in a class intended to ease the stress of guarding the world's most heavily fortified border. In this photo series and accompanying story Reuters meets men learning from the Korean National Ballet as they serve their mandatory military service.
At this year’s Olympics Games, the Brazilian government will hand out millions of free, sustainably produced condoms. The condoms are made using uses latex gathered from Amazon rubber trees, and with them the government aims to not only encourage safe sex, but also protect the rain forest and provide employment for local people.
In its war on air pollution, Paris has banned old, exhaust-belching cars registered before 1997 from its streets. Environmentalists have welcomed the ban, saying that air pollution kills 48,000 people each year in France. But the critics say the ban will hurt poor people most – and some say it represents a threat to their businesses.
Facebook Live’s instant video-streaming function allowing for immediate and uncensored broadcasting means events like the recent police shooting of a black man in Minnesota can be instantly brought to the attention of millions, and to powerful effect. But the function also brings up a complex web of ethical and policy issues for Facebook Live and similar features, as they are not subject to the same rules as traditional broadcasters. Reuters considers the pros and cons of making uncensored live video available to all.
The massacre of 49 people in an Orlando gay bar by a self-professed jihadist has put the spotlight on hate crimes against LGBT people in the U.S. Yet in this special report, Reuters finds that America’s system for punishing hate crimes is filled with limits and inconsistencies. Currently, there is no comprehensive nationwide system exists for tracking these crimes. Members of the LGBT community report that police frequently react with indifference or hostility when hate crimes are reported. As one LGBT advocate asks, “Why is it so hard to prove a hate crime is a hate crime?”
"Boxing is cool," says a nine-year-old participant of Fight For Peace, a boxing and martial arts academy for youths living in Rio’s poorest favelas. In the city that will soon play host to the Olympics, young people are using sport as a way to avoid a life of crime. Graduate and future Olympic torch bearer Carlos Viana explains how the programme changed his life.
With crisis-hit Venezuela suffering drastic food shortages this year and local resale prices spiralling, people living near the border are zipping into Colombia to buy flour, rice and even diapers for desperate shoppers back in Venezuela. As Venezuela's economic crisis worsens, poor and middle-class people brave food lines for hours but increasingly end up empty-handed. Many are forced to skip meals or forage through garbage. “There's nothing left in Venezuela, what's left is hunger. Colombia is what's saving us," said one smuggler.
How far would you go to break a world record? Meet the man from Delhi, India, who plastered his body with 500 tattoos and removed all his teeth (so he can fit 500 drinking straws and more than 50 burning candles in his mouth) to get in the Guinness Book of World Records. Har Parkash Rishi, who claims to have set more than 20 records and calls himself Guinness Rishi, explains why on Earth he does it.