Joanna Kakissis

LISBON, Portugal — The teenage girls in the red jerseys and black hijabs huddle close on the chilly pitch in this soccer-crazy city and chant their team's name.

"We are Ayenda!" they shout out, using the word for future in Dari, the Afghan dialect of Persian. "We are Afghanistan!"

This team includes some of Afghanistan's most talented young players, members of what used to be the Afghanistan Youth Women's Football Team, also known as the national girls soccer team. Like many people outside the United States, they call the game football.

LISBON, Portugal — The week the omicron variant hit Portugal, Violante Rocha — 80 years old and triple-vaccinated — masked up and went to the theater.

"Everyone else wore a mask too, of course," she says. "We understand that life is too good to lose. This is how we live with COVID."

BUDAPEST, Hungary — When President Biden greets scores of nations at his virtual "Summit for Democracy" this coming week, one member of the Western alliance won't be there.

Hungary, on the Eastern edge of the European Union, was not invited.

LISBON, Portugal — Sofia and André Oliveira, siblings and teen climate activists, did not expect much from the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

"Most politicians make these statements that they're going to lower emissions 60% by 2030," says André, 13. "And we want to believe that. But because of their history, we know that they really can't be very trusted."

"And so that's why we had to sue them," says Sofia, 16, "so we can give them another chance to do the right thing."

Facing a surge in coronavirus infections and stalled vaccination drives, two nations in the European Union are giving their citizens an ultimatum: take the COVID-19 vaccine or face the financial consequences.

Greece announced Tuesday that everyone 60 and older must be vaccinated by mid-January or face monthly fines of 100 euros (roughly $114).

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit


Stuck on a stalled motorized inflatable raft in the open sea, 15-year-old Tsedal began to panic.

She and the other passengers, more than 60 migrants from the African countries of Eritrea and Sudan, had set off from neighboring Libya, where their lives had become unbearable. They were trying to cross more than 100 miles of the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

Repeated distress calls brought no help. The passengers were suffering from dehydration and sunstroke. Two babies on board cried with such anguish that Tsedal could feel their wails deep in her chest.

The European Union began a mass vaccination campaign on Sunday to eventually inoculate some 450 million people in 27 member-states against COVID-19.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who fought in his country's 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia, has abruptly resigned after a Hague-based special court confirmed that he's been indicted on war crimes charges.

Speaking at a news conference in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, Thaci said he was stepping down "to protect the integrity of the state."

"I resign as of today," he told reporters on Thursday, urging calm and "political and civic unity."

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A Greek court has sentenced Nikos Michaloliakos, the leader of the far right anti-immigrant Golden Dawn party, to 13 years in prison. Michaloliakos and others from Golden Dawn were found guilty last week of being part of a criminal organization that ordered or encouraged violence.

Other leaders received sentences ranging from five to 13 years on Wednesday. The court will decide soon if any of the sentences will be suspended.

The pastel-painted taverns, cafes and hotels that line the small port in the remote Greek island of Kastellorizo are usually bustling this time of year with tourists, including hundreds of day-trippers from Turkey — which is just a 10-minute speedboat ride away.

This year, the port is quiet, and not just because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This stunning, craggy isle surrounded by the deep-blue Aegean Sea has become a pawn in a dispute between Greece and Turkey — NATO allies and longtime frenemies — over maritime borders and offshore gas and oil exploration rights.

Ra'ed Alabed films his tent's smoldering remains in what he called the "hell camp" on the Greek island of Lesbos.

"This was my home," says the 45-year-old Syrian refugee in a video he shared with NPR, pointing to a blackened cooking pot and a thicket of charred olive-tree branches. "My home in the most horrible place."

Multiple fires this week destroyed the tents of more than 12,000 refugees living in Europe's largest refugee camp, called Moria after a nearby village. For years, the camp has symbolized the European Union's failure to manage migration in a humane way.

Several swift fires gutted Europe's largest refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, sending 12,000 asylum-seekers scrambling for emergency shelter.

The camp, named Moria, after a nearby village tucked into olive groves, was already notorious because of its horrific conditions, which included severe overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of soap and water taps. Asylum-seekers at the camp often lined up for hours for food that was often spoiled.