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THE OBSERVERS

A show produced with photos, videos and personal accounts from our Observers around the world - all checked by our staff here in Paris. Saturday at 10.15 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2012-10-10

An underground hospital in Syria, a Jordanian dad fighting to get his kids water, and more

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.

Story 1: Syria

Our first Observer today has taken time off from her studies. She was studying English in the Syrian city of Homs. But Homs is a battleground, with rebels of the Free Syrian Army fighting forces loyal to President Bachar al-Assad. Opposition groups say nearly 8,000 people have died in the city and the surrounding province. There are no estimates of the wounded.

In Homs the only public hospital still open is controlled by the army, leaving few options for residents hurt in the shelling. Our Observer, who we call Shoruk, has no medical training. But she's volunteered to do what she can at one of the underground clinics set up to treat the injuries.

 

Story 2: Jordan

Next up, water shortages, specifically a lack of fresh drinkable water... It's a problem across the Middle East but especially in Jordan. The UN Development Program estimates that Jordanians get only 15% of the fresh water they need for drinking, cooking and washing. In some cities, there's water only one day in three. One frustrated father in the northeastern city of Zarqa took his kids to the only place he was sure of finding water. Omar Al-Shishan, our Observer in the city, explains.

 

Story 3: World

Now for a look at some other videos and stories sent in by our Observers this week.

First stop, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with Abubakar Siddeeq, a blogger from Nigeria. Abubakar tells us that more than 1,000 of his compatriots were turned back by Saudi authorities when they arrived for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Why? Because they'e women, and they weren't accompanied by male sponsors, as required by Saudi law. Abubakar says that is based on an outdated interpretation of Islam. While the road to Mecca might have been dangerous for unaccompanied women in the days of the prophet Mohammed, that is no longer the case, Abubakar says. Nigerian authorities are now checking the women are accompanied before they board the plane.

Now to Egypt where doctors at public hospitals have gone on strike. They complain that their facilities are run down and underfunded - and that the new government, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, isn't doing anything about it. Our Observer Mohammed Shafiq has a theory about why. The Muslim Brothers already have their own network of hospitals and clinics across the country, and don't have any interest, he says, in making the public hospitals perform better.

Finally today: what to do if you're stuck in a traffic jam. Authorities in China made a goodwill gesture on one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, telling drivers they wouldn't have to pay tolls. Eighty-five million Chinese took them up on the offer, leading to huge jams on the country's motorways. Fortunately, the stranded drivers did not seem to lose their holiday spirit.

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