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VOA Weekly Programming Highlights: March 8, 2023

VOA News Center Launches Multimedia Project on China’s Belt and Road Initiative

This week the VOA News Center launched a multimedia project looking back at 10 years of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Featuring substantial contributions from VOA’s Indonesian and Spanish services, journalists investigated high-speed train lines in Southeast Asia, school construction in Iraq, a hydropower project in Ecuador, as well as initiatives to spread Chinese language and values in Africa. Using data from AidData, a university research lab at William & Mary in Virginia, the project also allows users to explore more than $843 billion on more than 13,000 projects across 165 countries. At least 10 VOA language services have translated the data explorer interface.

VOA Coverage Offers Exclusive Insights on U.S. Assistance to Ukraine

VOA Ukrainian provided exclusive insights into congressional hearings held on February 28 on security assistance for Ukraine, including those held by the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, garnering tens of thousands of views on social media. The service reported live from Congress with exclusive comments from U.S. lawmakers, including Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Michael Waltz (R-FL) and John Garamendi (D-CA), and an interview with Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on the strategy of U.S. aid for Kyiv this year. Coverage also featured live reports from the White House and State Department explaining the additional U.S. military assistance announced last week.

VOA Mandarin’s Congressional Hearing Coverage Spurs Online Debate, Audience Appreciation

Mandarin’s livestreaming - with translation - of the first hearing of the House Select Committee on China drew praise from audiences and has generated 145K views and robust debate online since it aired on February 28. Lawmakers warned that China poses an existential threat, with former national security officials testifying that Beijing disguises its true intentions. As one viewer thanked congressmen for differentiating between the CCP and the Chinese people, one Twitter video alone -- of former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger – triggered 45k engagements, with many commenting that Washington should have realized sooner that Beijing cannot be trusted.

Comprehensive Coverage of Poisoning of Schoolgirls in Iran Resonates with Audience

VOA Persian had extensive coverage of the wave of poisonings of schoolgirls in Iran that has been ongoing since the protests related to Mahsa Amini’s death last fall. VOA interviewed experts vis-à-vis the rapidly evolving situation where numerous students are falling ill and being transported to hospitals at the same time when school authorities and security forces continue to crack down on protesting families. The US and other Western countries' leaders and officials have expressed concern about these incidents. Additionally, the Last Page show discussed the types of gases used in biological attacks on schools, with three experts weighing in. Audience engagement on digital platforms surpassed 2,463,426 between February 26 and March 3.

VOA Deewa and Urdu Coverages of Deadly Shipwreck Involving Pakistani Migrants Engage Audience

On March 4, VOA Deewa spoke with the father of Azad Khan, one of the two Pakistani migrants to lose his life in the February 26 shipwreck off the coast of Italy. “It’s a doomsday for us,” the father told VOA, as he waited to receive his son's body in northwestern city of Peshawar. In a February 28 interview with VOA Urdu, Ali Javed, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Rome, commented on the dire conditions awaiting those who brave the journey to Italy in search of a better life. Beginning on February 28, the coverage generated more than one million views on Facebook through March 6.

VOA Report on Ethiopia’s Drought Crisis Resonates with Audience

A VOA Amharic report from February 27 about a young humanitarian went viral, sharing details of the efforts to help those suffering from Ethiopia’s drought crisis that began in early 2022 and shedding light on this critical issue affecting more than 15 million people. As the drought in the Borena area in Ethiopia’s Oromia region destroyed acres of crops and killed thousands of cattle, Abenet Kebede was one of the first responders. "What I have witnessed here cannot be described in words," Abenet told VOA Amharic. The report generated nearly 200k views, 18k likes, and more than 500 comments on Facebook between February 27 and March 6.

VOA Spanish Clinches Interviews with Top Officials at "Our Ocean Conference 2023" in Panama

During Our Ocean Conference 2023 in Panama last week, VOA Spanish journalist Jaime Moreno interviewed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans Maxine Burkett and Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry. They reacted to China's planned expansion of coal-fired power plants, addressed how the Ukraine war changed climate change fight, and commented on the United States' $6B funding to protect the world’s oceans. The Foro program included live guests from the conference and interviews with former Colombia President Ivan Duque, who emphasized “protection of the oceans is a moral duty.”

VOA Programming Highlights are compiled based on information available from multiple sources at the time of posting. This information constantly evolves. If you intend to cite to information posted in VOA Highlights, please consult VOA Public Relations at to ensure it is accurate and current.