Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

From Our Own Correspondent highlights from 2009

In a special programme, From Our Own Correspondent takes a look back at despatches from BBC correspondents in 2009.


All through 2009 it was war in Afghanistan and Pakistan that dominated the news.

A Taliban fighter in Afghanistan

For Western troops this was the bloodiest, most costly year since they began to fight in the dusty fields and villages of places like Helmand.

There were Taliban suicide bombings and death threats. Afghans complained of a climate of corruption and fear.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai began his second term in 2009 with a pledge to end the fighting.

Hugh Sykes reported that the poverty-stricken country's connection to Pakistan makes this a deeply complex problem, and gave a sense of just how badly broken the country when he took a wander in the streets of the capital, Kabul.

Read Hugh Sykes's full report here.

The report was first broadcast on Saturday, 21 November 2009.


France might be just across the English Channel from Britain, but Emma Jane Kirby reported on how both nations are still prone to the pitfalls of linguistic misunderstandings.

Obama arriving at the Normandy American Cemetery

While on Pegasus bridge in Normandy for the D-Day celebrations, she was touched to see two classes of French primary school children singing the British national anthem in honour of the veterans.

But standing tall and proud, the children were calling on the Almighty to "sieve the Queen and her setter, Victoria."

It took her straight back to her school days when she had learned to sing the nursery rhyme Frere Jacques - singing "sunny semolina" instead of the French sonnez les matines.

Read Emma Jane Kirby's full report on Lost in translation across the Channel.

The report was first broadcast on Saturday, 13 June, 2009.


The authorities in the capital of Sri Lanka declared the elusive rebel leader of the Tamil Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran, dead and the war between the two sides over in May.

Velupillai Prabhakaran

The rebels had made a last stand in the north-east of the island after Sri Lankan troops cornered them in a coastal strip.

The Tigers' defeat brought to an end their 26-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland.

Chris Morris reflected on the life of Prabhakaran and considered whether there could now be reconciliation.

Read more from Chris Morris on Sri Lanka's new chapter.

The report was first broadcast on Saturday, 23 May, 2009.


A top human rights lawyer who acted for the family of a Chechen woman murdered by a Russian army officer was shot dead along with a journalist in Moscow.

A woman lays a flower next to the sport where Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova were murdered  (Photo: Alexey SAZONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Stanislav Markelov, who acted for the family of Kheda Kungayeva, 18, was shot by a gunman after a news conference in the centre of the Russian capital, after he spoke out against her killer's early release.

A newspaper journalist who was with him, Anastasia Baburova from the Novaya Gazeta, was badly wounded in the attack and died a few hours later in hospital.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes questioned why little appeared to have been done to find those responsible.

He said there was not a single word of condemnation came from President Dmitry Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Russia collectively shrugged its shoulders and looked the other way, and so he began asking people, including Alexander Lebedev, the Russian billionaire businessman, why.

Read the full report on why there was no outcry here.

The report was first broadcast on Saturday, 7 February, 2009.


In mid-2009 the pain of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia was relived in at the country's UN-backed genocide court in Phnom Penh.

The court was preparing to try five of the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity.

There were 1.7 million people who died under the regime, but culture and architecture also suffered.

Former residence of the king's mother in Kep

From the end of World War II through until the mid 1960s, French settlers - and a few rich Cambodians - built dozens of bungalows and villas.

But the rise of the Khmer Rouge saw the villas looted, then abandoned to the elements, or set ablaze as part of the Khmer Rouge's quest to eliminate anything to do with an imperial past.

Petroc Trelawny visited a former French colonial retreat and found that although the grand villas had fallen into disrepair, the buildings were too well constructed to be completely destroyed.

And he discovered the gardens were still perfectly maintained.

The full report is available online here.

The report was first broadcast on Saturday, 4 April, 2009.


Kevin Connolly headed out on a fishing trip in Texas, where he discovered that North America's largest freshwater fish, the predatory alligator gar, was now protected to preserve its numbers.

Alligator gar

Until recently the gar, a mean-looking fish that lives in rivers and lakes, was hunted ruthlessly out of fresh waters, sometimes using dynamite, to protect other fish.

It has a croc-like head lined with sharp teeth, and can grow to 160kgs (350lbs).

Kevin Connolly was surprised to find that since conservationists introduced the regulations, the prehistoric-looking predator was hunted not with the simple rod, but with a bow and arrow.

And that made it even harder for the correspondent to catch one...

Read Kevin Connolly's full report on the alligator gar here.

The report was first broadcast on Saturday, 19 September, 2009.

From Our Own Correspondent's special was broadcast at 1130 GMT on Saturday, 2 January, 2009, on BBC Radio 4. Listen to the full programme of the year's highlights on BBC iplayer.

Check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

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