As the globe marks World AIDS Day today, the United Nations is warning that the spread of the disease is particularly acute in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where the UN says "HIV prevalence clearly remains on the rise."
The Bamiyan Valley is nestled among green fields, ochre cliffs, and eroded geological wonders in Afghanistan's central highlands.
In recent history, it is best-known for the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001. The dynamiting of the two giant statues, carved into sandstone cliffs along the ancient Silk Road in the sixth century, sparked an international outcry.
Afghanistan's environment and biodiversity had been dramatically affected by three decades of fighting coupled with years of severe drought.
Infrastructure has been damaged, populations have been scattered, poverty is widespread, and law enforcement is lacking. Such circumstances paved the way for the exploitation of the country's natural resources and the degradation of its land.
In one of the latest unsanctioned demonstrations, several hundred people gathered for the second time on January 5 in the village of Nardaran near Baku.
Speaking to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, one participant, Mustafayev Abdulla, condemned the "genocide of Palestinians by Israel. We demand that they stop this action and express our solidarity with the Palestinians."
Snow leopards live in the mountainous regions of Central Asia and China. The animal already has vanished from some areas where it used to live. To impoverished residents of areas inhabited by snow leopards, protecting the animal may seem like an unaffordable luxury.