Stories written by Karlos Zurutuza

Living on a Ballpoint Pen in Kabul

Seventy-year-old Mohamad Arif still earns a living in the streets of Kabul. He prepares all kind of documents for those who cannot read or write – in other words, the majority of people in this country of 30.5 million people.

Against All the Odds: Maternity and Mortality in Afghanistan

Nasrin Mohamadi, a mother of four, has promised herself never to set foot in an Afghan public hospital again. After her first experience in a maternity ward, she has lost all faith in the state’s healthcare system.

For These Asylum Seekers, the Journey Ends Where it Began

"Of course I'm scared, but what else can I possibly do?" asks Ahmed, a middle-aged man seated on the carpeted floor of a hotel located on the southern edge of Afghanistan. He is bound for Iran, but he still has no idea when or how he’ll cross the border.

Afghan “Torn” Women Get Another Chance

"The smell of faeces and urine isolates them completely. Their husbands abandon them and they become stigmatised forever” – Dr Pashtoon Kohistani barely needs two lines to sum up the drama of those women affected by obstetric fistula.

Stab in the Back for Painful Afghanistan Election Process?

A knife fight late Tuesday among several auditors at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) still inspecting the results of the presidential elections held in mid-June could be the stab in the back for what has been a painful election process.

Touaregs Seek Secular and Democratic Multi-Ethnic State

The government of Mali and Touareg rebels representing Azawad, a territory in northern Mali which declared unilateral independence in 2012 after a Touareg rebellion drove out the Malian army, resumed peace talks in Algiers last week, intended to end decades of conflict.

Syrian Kurds Have Their Own TV Against All Odds

Rudi Mohamed Amid gives his script one quick, last glance before he goes live. "Roj bas, Kurdistan (Good morning, Kurdistan)," he greets his audience, with the assuredness of a veteran journalist. However, hardly anyone at Ronahi, Syrian Kurds' first and only television channel, had any media experience before the war.

Train on the Move to Unite Basques, Scots and Catalans

"Around 150,000 showed up to claim that we, Basques, want to decide the future of this country,” Urtzi Urrutikoetxea, journalist, writer and member of the Basque people’s organisation Gure Esku Dago (GED), told IPS after on the 123-kilometre long human chain “for the right to decide” organised Sunday.

Syrian Kurds Ache For A Lifeline

“We all know that Ankara and Erbil have a joint plan to evacuate the entire region," Abdurrahman Hemo, head of the Kurdish Humanitarian Aid Committee tells IPS. "They want to choke the people here until they flee en masse."

Syrian Split Divides Christians

Malki Hana says his men are afraid of cameras. “Most of them are army defectors and they may easily get in trouble," says this commander of a mostly unknown armed group in Syria.

Imprisoning Themselves to Stay Safe

"I don’t dare tell you who the murderers are but their target is just us, Turkmens," says Ahmed Abdulla Muhtaroglu, sitting by the portrait of his brother who was killed last year.

Iraqi Sunnis Seek a Say

Sunni Muslims have set up a new party amidst uncertainties as to whether elections can be held as scheduled in the troubled western regions of Iraq. Polling for the 328-seat Iraqi parliament is due Apr. 30.

Libyan Highlanders Enforce Rule of Law

Everybody in this mountain village is seemingly familiar with the new regulations. “People other than militiamen or policemen will be fined 500 dinars [around 300 euros] for carrying guns,” local resident Younis Walid tells IPS.

Q&A: “Libyan Women Were Handed Over as Spoils of War”

Unless immediate changes are enforced, Libya is heading towards an "Afghan" model regarding women´s rights, Aicha Almagrabi, a Libyan writer and senior women rights activist, told IPS from her residence in Tripoli.

An African Dream Called Lampedusa

Youssef crossed the Sahara desert with a folded school map of Europe in his pocket. “Could you please point [out] Lampedusa in the map for me? I cannot find it.”

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