‘They are invisible’: the migrant workers struggling in wake of India’s Covid response

As a new Guardian documentary explores the impact of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, we speak to some of those who, like millions across the country, were left poorer and more vulnerable than ever

When Ram Yadav fled India’s strict countrywide lockdown imposed in March 2020, he was one of the lucky ones, managing to hitch rides from Delhi on trucks going in the direction of his village near Kanpur, 400km (250 miles) away.

An estimated 10 million workers were forced to walk home, travelling on foot via fields, forests and highways in the scorching sun.

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Burn out: Inside the 2 September Guardian Weekly

On the frontline of Britain’s energy bills crisis. Plus: Visions of outer space
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The spiralling cost of living has been an increasingly urgent problem in the UK. But for many people, huge rises in energy bills are about to turn a difficult situation into an impossible one.

The squeeze on European gas supplies, largely as a consequence of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, has led to a near-doubling of prices in the UK, with even worse predicted for next year. Political inertia, caused by a lengthy Conservative leadership contest, has only added to a deepening sense of national frustration.

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Researchers attach body cameras to children to study New Zealand poverty

Images from world-first project show ‘shameful’ differences between conditions faced by children in most- and least-advantaged households

Body cameras attached to more than 150 children have captured the “shameful” extent of child poverty in New Zealand through a child’s eye in a world-first study.

The University of Otago-led study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, involved 168 randomly selected 11- to 13-year-olds from across 16 Wellington schools wearing automatic cameras for four days. The cameras took a photo every seven seconds of the child’s day outside school hours and during the weekend.

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‘We’re finished’: Sri Lankans pushed to the brink by financial crisis

Thousands take to the streets to call for the resignation of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa

As thousands of angry cries and anti-government slogans filled the streets of the Sri Lankan city Colombo on Saturday, Chanda Upul stood quietly nearby, desperately pushing his wares of soft drinks and bottled water on protesters. But in his heart he was chanting along with them.

As Sri Lanka has descended into its worst financial crisis since independence, with food, fuel, medicine and electricity becoming increasingly scarce, and calls for the president Gotabaya Rajapaksa – frequently referred to as Gota – to step down, 50-year-old Upul, who lives in a poor northern suburb of the city, is among those who have been pushed to the brink of survival.

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‘House of love’: the calm, creative space changing young lives in Karachi

In Lyari, a slum notorious for violence in Pakistan’s most populous city, Mehr Ghar offers young people a safe place to hang out and study – and, for many, an alternative path to gang life

Living in Lyari was like living on the frontlines of a war, says Nauroz Ghani, who grew up in the Karachi slum notorious for its bloody gang battles. So used to the constant gunfire, he says he would “become restless if a day passed by without hearing the sound of a firing”.

“My teenage years were lost to violence,” says Ghani, 24. “I had no interest in getting an education. Instead, I was attracted by their guns and activities.” He saw dead bodies on the street and one boy was killed in front of him. “All of us who lived during those days have such memories. We lived in terror, but it had become habitual.”

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The rise in global inflation – the hit to living standards across the world

Analysis: From Pakistan to the US, Australia to Germany, the cost of living is rising to new highs and causing new hardships

After decades lurking in the shadows, inflation is back. On Amazon, you can find fridge magnets printed with words spoken 40 years ago by Ronald Reagan, before the election that swept him into the White House.

“Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.”

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Scared, hungry and cold: child workers in Kabul – picture essay

As temperatures fall below freezing, children as young as four trying to make a living on the Afghan capital’s streets are all that stand between their family and starvation

Amid the roadside restaurants and bustling crowds in one of Kabul’s busiest markets, a 10-year-old girl is trying to sell plastic bags to shoppers squeezing past her. “If I don’t work, we will go hungry,” Shaista says. Shops in the Afghan capital are stacked with food, but her family cannot afford any of it.

Each morning, Shaista buys a few shopping bags for 5 afghani (4p) each, then goes to the market to sell them for double that. As the UN predicts that 97% of Afghans could be living below the poverty line by June, the number of child labourers and beggars has tripled in Kabul, aid workers say. Many are fighting just to survive.

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Revolutionary roads: how the army tried to crush Yangon’s most anti-coup district

Hlaing Thayar was at the centre of Myanmar’s protests, but brutal crackdowns and the collapse of the local garment industry have taken their toll

As Thitsar* walked through her neighbourhood one December morning, she was struck by its emptiness. The bamboo shacks that line the streets of Hlaing Tharyar, an industrial township on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, lay in tatters, overgrown with weeds. The vendors who once weaved through traffic had vanished, as had many of the informal settlements where they lived and the roadside tea shops where they gathered.

Streets that had once resounded with chants for democracy were now eerily silent.

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India homeless shiver through New Delhi cold snap as scores die from exposure

City records coldest January day in nearly a decade while temperatures across month plummet 2-6C below normal

India’s capital, New Delhi, is shivering through an unusually harsh bout of winter cold, blamed for killing scores of homeless people and leaving other hard-up residents struggling to keep warm.

The sprawling city’s 20 million inhabitants are accustomed to year-round weather extremes, from blistering summer heat to torrential downpours and thick, toxic smog at the end of autumn.

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‘I’ve already sold my daughters; now, my kidney’: winter in Afghanistan’s slums

Crushing poverty is forcing starving displaced people to make desperate choices

The temperature is dropping to below zero in western Afghanistan and Delaram Rahmati is struggling to find food for her eight children.

Since leaving the family home in the country’s Badghis province four years ago, the Rahmatis have been living in a mud hut with a plastic roof in one of Herat city’s slums. Drought made their village unliveable and the land unworkable. Like an estimated 3.5 million Afghans who have been forced to leave their homes, the Rahmatis now live in a neighbourhood for internally displaced people (IDP).

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‘We live and die by it’: climate crisis threatens Bangladesh’s Sundarbans

Villagers rely more on the forest’s resources, threatening its ecosystem – and leaving them more vulnerable to cyclones

As he steps out of the mosque on the banks of the Kholpetua River, Mohammed Sabud Ali looks out at a view he has seen several times a day for most of his life. But never before has the sprawling Sundarbans mangrove forest felt so important to him.

The vast Sundarbans has always protected Bangladeshi coastal communities from the violent cyclones that regularly crash in from the Bay of Bengal, and they have always harvested its resources. But now, as the climate crisis encroaches, people are becoming even more dependent on the forest.

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Covid created 20 new ‘pandemic billionaires’ in Asia, says Oxfam

While wealthiest got richer, 140m people fell into poverty as jobs were lost, wiping out years of gains for poorest, report finds

Twenty new “pandemic billionaires” have been created in Asia thanks to the international response to Covid-19, while 140 million people across the continent were plunged into poverty as jobs were lost during the pandemic, according to Oxfam.

A report by the aid organisation says that by March 2021, profits from the pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and services needed for the Covid response had made 20 people new billionaires as lockdowns and economic stagnation destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of others.

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‘On the brink’: drought and politics leave Afghans fighting famine

Aid collapse after Taliban took control means just 2% of people have enough to eat, UN says

In his seven decades, Mehrajuddin has been a police commander, a fighter for the mujahideen, a district governor and a prosecutor, and even briefly worked in Europe. Until this year, he has never struggled to feed his family.

Now they have just one meal a day, hard discs of stale bread soaked in water until they soften to mush. “All the family are starving,” he says bluntly as he waits at a food distribution centre in Kabul for a handout of lentils, rice, flour and oil. “I even worry about dying, because if it happens tomorrow, how will my family pay for my funeral?”

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Gordon Brown: west is sleepwalking into Afghanistan disaster

Ex-PM warns poverty and starvation mean country is at risk of world’s biggest humanitarian crisis

The west is “sleepwalking into the biggest humanitarian crisis of our times” in Afghanistan, Gordon Brown has warned, as he called for a support package to save the country from economic and social collapse after the Taliban’s takeover.

Four months after the western-backed government was overthrown following a mass military withdrawal, the former UK prime minister said the case for action was not based only on morals but also “in our self-interest”.

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