Assignment Asia

Protecting Endangered Wildlife

This edition of Assignment Asia takes you to the seas of the Philippines and the forests of Indonesia to highlight issues concerning the region's fragile wildlife. Whale shark tourism is a growing industry in the Philippines. It attracts thousands of visitors and generates millions of dollars in income every year. But environmentalists criticize the practice, saying excessive interaction with humans and the feeding of whale sharks are harming the endangered species. Reporter Barnaby Lo travels to Oslob and Donsol, two coastal towns with different ways of giving people close encounters with the gentle giants of the sea. The name "orangutan" literally means person of the forest. Yet in Indonesia, orangutans have lost their homes to deforestation over the years, and many have fallen victim to poachers. Faced with this problem, a nonprofit group has been rescuing orangutans and giving them refuge before releasing them into the wild. Reporter Silkina Ahluwalia goes to East Kalimantan on Borneo island, where rescued orangutans are having a new lease on life.

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Development

Asia has some of the world's most pressing problems, including poverty and disease. But despite the odds, progress is being made in some parts of the region. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. The Pakistani government has launched an aggressive vaccination drive, but workers on the ground face security threats, and sometimes, an unwelcoming public. Reporter Danial Khan meets the health workers who confront dangers and challenges in their mission to eradicate polio in Pakistan.

Inside Zaatari

As the civil war in their country rages on, the future remains uncertain for some 80,000 Syrians in Jordan's Zaatari camp, one of the world's largest refugee settlements. An informal economy thrives as people try to bring normalcy to their lives, but it remains a heavily guarded camp where their movements are limited. Reporter Stephanie Freid shows viewers a slice of life at Zaatari camp, where refugees struggle to move on with their lives while bearing the trauma of war. This film won the 2017 Silver World Prize of the New York Festival International Television Awards.

Emergency

Without a state-run emergency service in their country, volunteers have taken on the task of responding to accidents and other emergencies in the Thai capital, Bangkok. They patrol the streets of the bustling city every night, rushing anywhere anyone needs rescue. Reporter Martin Lowe spent one busy but ultimately tragic night with Bangkok's volunteer rescuers.

Courage

The first episode of this series of "Assignment Asia" profiles people who if nothing else display courage in their everyday life/tells stories about courage, from the gleaming skyscrapers of Shanghai to the farmlands of the Lao countryside. First we go to the gleaming skyscrapers of Shanghai to discover a people whose lives are less than "gleaming." For Shanghai depends for its growth on the cheap labor of migrant workers. Reporter Han Bin takes high above the city to meet the workers who endure lives away from their loved ones to earn a living away from the poverty in their hometowns.