I cannot imagine being in labour and forced to trek miles and miles in the hope to deliver in safe conditions. One woman I met Kula, delivered her baby on the side of the road in the dark with the threat of snakes and other dangerous animals to contend with. She had walked miles from her village to the one where we met to hire a canoe. She didn't make it as far as the village before she gave birth and her baby only made it as far as the water's edge when it passed away as she waited for two hours for a canoe to take her and her newborn baby to the clinic. Kula's story shocked Kate and I to the core. We were overwhelmed with grief for her.
German chancellor Angela Merkel is being treated like political royalty, a consequence of her country's economic power as well as prime minister David Cameron's desperate need for friends in Europe. Few would argue about the position of Germany as the economic powerhouse of the European Union but what can Britain learn from the German economic model?
A carefully orchestrated campaign to criminalise the buyer of sexual services is set to be centre staged this year. Emotions, prejudice, feminism, ideology and religion are creating a vortex, and revolving at its centre is the question as to whether selling and purchasing sexual services is right or wrong. Where are the rights of sex workers in this debate, have they been consulted and has their voice been heard?
Zenebu Tadesse, Ethiopia's Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs has taken to twitter criticizing the passing of Uganda's anti-gay law, on Monday. Tadesse tweeted: "There is no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa. It's not Governments' business to make dress code or anti-gay laws #Uganda."
Any government which starts to kill its own citizens while they are engaging in legitimate protest has forfeited the right to go on governing (would that the same applied in Syria - but we are long past that point there). At the same time, it was and is impossible not to worry about what might happen next.
The UK and Russia are nations that have both been blessed with rich cultural heritages with great artists, composers, writers and performers known throughout the world. And alongside this history, we also have vibrant contemporary cultures which is why I am delighted that this year, starting on 24 February, has been designated the first UK-Russia year of culture.
Perhaps the greatest folly of all is the belief that negotiations can actually lead to a durable and lasting peace with the Taliban. Past agreements have quickly collapsed due to the organization's military expansionism and desire to expand their writ all over Pakistan; something they make no secret of even today.
Beneath the pallid smog of billowing smoke that hangs above Independence Square in Kiev, the belligerents of the civil war pause for breath in a conflict that few can be sure will not resume. If it does, the rebels that hide behind their barricades, and the state forces that try to haul them down, may discover that - beneath the burnt-out tyres, barrels, and rubble - the unexpected weight of history lies very much alive and unwell.
The reality is that in the case of Romanians 'benefit tourism' is a myth because from 5.7million working age benefit claimants in the UK last year, only 1,740 were Romanians, which represents 0.03% of the total claimants, or 1.45% of the Romanian community in Britain. To compare, the percentage of working age benefit claimants for the whole UK population is 9.5%.
As Kiev erupted into violence this week, the world's media made its way to the city's makeshift morgues and, once again, made record of a country taking democracy into its own hands. There has been no end of dramatic imagery emerging from the city, but perhaps the most moving piece to resonate around the world was the YouTube video I Am A Ukrainian, which made post-grad student Yulia the voice of a country in two short but powerful minutes. The sale of WhatsApp to Facebook may have been the big financial and tech news of the week, but arguably it was Tinder that deserved the headlines. In a certain Russian town, the dating app saw a 400% increase in users in the past seven days...
It gives me no pleasure to say this: revolutions are often in vain. It is, alas, too easy to be swept up in the excitement of young protesters taking control of the streets... TV cameras blinking down from the balconies of nearby hotels give us the impression of a people in revolt, an unstoppable wave of protest, sweeping away oppression and corruption.
Some may argue that a city museum in Istanbul would be redundant. Istanbul is itself a living museum, they might say as they trip over unmarked relics and ruins that literally dot the streets here. But this lets people off the hook for the wholesale destruction Istanbul has faced on a near constant basis since, well, always. Istanbullus like to eulogise their city but don't seem particularly interested in preserving it.
Right this second all around the world, millions of children are in danger. Huge numbers of children are caught up in emergencies, like conflicts in Syria and South Sudan and natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In the Philippines 1.7million children were forced from their homes when the Typhoon swept through their communities. I saw myself how children's lives have been destroyed and how they are slowly recovering with the help of UNICEF. As a father, it was a moving experience and the memories of the children I met will stay with me for the rest of my life.