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epa Photo Essays 2022
Sitting astride their metal steeds they smash down the highway looking de-humanized as they ram their motorcycles between traffic on the way to a church service in the nearby township. Heads turn, people look up from their phones as the CMA ride to a small non-biker township church for the multi-racial, inter-denominational Sunday church service to help spread the word of God. Motorcycle gangs and clubs are easily associated by the general public with the hardcore, often outlawed motorcycle clubs like the Hells Angles MC, Bandidos MC and Warlocks MC and the image they portrait and live by is one of an uncompromising MC (Motorcycle Club) that is all too often associated with illegal activities and the trappings of the biker lifestyle. In contrast to the hardcore biker lifestyle is the Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA) which has its roots in the USA, having started in 1975 by Herb Shreve, an Arkansas pastor. Now in 30 countries worldwide, the CMA aims to bring the word of God to the biker communities they ride with.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine a month ago, triggering the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in the world, millions of people – the vast majority women, children and the elderly – have seen their lives torn apart. Over 10 million people have been displaced by the war, with at least 3.6 million of those seeking refuge abroad, an exodus unseen in Europe since World War II that will severely test the EU’s solidarity and promise of welcoming the millions of Ukrainian refugees. As they flee their homeland carrying their lives in their suitcases and saddled with fear and uncertainty, the one thing these refugees know for sure is that they are headed to Germany and – they hope – to safety.
On the platform at the railway station in the Czech town Bohumin, near the Polish border, around 40 volunteers carry the last boxes of humanitarian aid destined for Ukraine. It is around 4:30 on a freezing morning in early March. The boxes, enough to fill seven train carriages, mostly contain power banks, personal hygiene items, children's clothes, towels, bed clothes, and sleeping bags – anything that might come in handy in Ukraine, a country that has been suddenly and violently plunged into a brutal war. The train will also carry four tons of vital medical supplies for the hospital in Lviv. In one direction, in addition to our group of journalists and volunteers, the train will carry humanitarian aid, and in the other, the volunteers hope to bring people fleeing Russian bombs to the Czech Republic. At least, that is the plan.
Homeless Afghans addicted to drugs gather underneath bridges to take drugs and are often rounded up, beaten and forcibly taken to treatment centres by the Taliban to avoid visible casualities in harsh winter conditions. The ward in Kabul has some 350 staff and can cater to around 1,000 patients. Yet it is occupied by around 3,500 drugs addicts who have been brought there by the Taliban. A handful of rehabilitation centers are run by private charity in other cities as well. Afghanistan is one of the leading producers of heroin and methamphetamine in the world. Most of the drugs produced are exported to the world's black markets. However, a significant proportion of drugs are deposited within the country.