Kelly McEvers

After three years covering the Middle East for NPR, Kelly McEvers is taking on a new country: the U.S. In the fall of 2013, she will become a correspondent for NPR's National Desk.

Previous to this role, she was NPR's international correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon. Prior to moving into that reporting location in January 2012, McEvers was based at NPR's Baghdad Bureau.

In 2011, she traveled undercover to follow Arab uprisings in places where brutal crackdowns quickly followed the early euphoria of protests. While colleagues were celebrating with protesters in Egypt or rebels in Libya, McEvers was hunkered down with underground activists in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria. She has been tear-gassed in Bahrain; she has spent a night in a tent city with a Yemeni woman who would later share the Nobel Peace Prize; and she has spent long hours with the shadowy group of anti-government rebels known as the Free Syrian Army.

In Iraq, she covered the final withdrawal of U.S. troops and the political chaos that has gripped the country since. Before arriving in Iraq in 2010, McEvers was one of the first Western correspondents to be based, full-time, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She also covered Yemen and other Persian Gulf countries.

In 2008 and 2009, McEvers was part of a team that produced the award-winning "Working" series for American Public Media's business and finance show, Marketplace. She filed sound-rich profiles of a war fixer in Beirut, a smuggler in Dubai, a sex-worker in Baku, a pirate in the Strait of Malacca and a marriage broker in Vietnam.

From 2004-2006, McEvers covered the former Soviet Union for PRI's The World. She investigated the Russian military's role in the violent end to the three-day school siege by Chechen militants in the Russian town of Beslan. She was later accused of spying and detained for three days by Russian security forces near the border with Chechnya.

After 9/11, McEvers covered Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore for NPR and other outlets — including in-depth stories on Jemaah Islamiyah, the region's Al Qaeda-linked terrorist network that planned and executed deadly attacks at two Bali nightclubs in 2002.

McEvers was based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 1999-2000 for the BBC World Service. From there, she filed her first NPR story on then-emerging plans to try former members of the Khmer Rouge. She is one of the first reporters to knock on the door of Nuon Chea, the so-called "Brother No. 2" who served under Pol Pot.

Beginning her journalism career in 1997 at the Chicago Tribune, McEvers worked as a metro reporter and spent nearly a year documenting the lives of female gang members for the Sunday magazine.

In addition to NPR, her radio work has appeared on PRI/Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, NPR's Hearing Voices and On the Media, American Public Media's Weekend America, and the CBC. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books Online, The Washington Monthly, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is a founder of Six Billion, an online magazine that was a regular feature at Harvard University's Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism.

McEvers served as a fellow with the International Reporting Project at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies. She earned a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and has been a professor of journalism at universities in the U.S. and abroad. She has a bachelor's in English literature and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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9:38am

Tue January 15, 2013
The Two-Way

In War-Torn Aleppo, Old Doors That Reflect A Grand Tradition

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 10:37 am

Syria door
Kelly McEvers NPR

Aleppo's storied old city, which dates to the 12th century, has suffered much in the fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels over the past few months. But parts of the city remain intact, as I saw on a recent walk through the winding, stone alleys on the way to the front line.

Centuries ago, it took Muslims from this area months in a caravan to make the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca, the holiest site in Islam, which is now part of Saudi Arabia.

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3:29pm

Tue January 8, 2013
Middle East

A Welcoming Way Station For Syrians Fleeing Home

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 4:37 pm

Beit Qamishlo is a modest house in southern Turkey that caters to Syrian exiles seeking temporary refuge. It also hosts frequent discussions on Syria's future. Here, Malik Dagestani (center), a former political prisoner in Syria, talks about his detention in the 1980s and 1990s.
Kelly McEvers NPR

It's called Beit Qamishlo, or the House of Qamishlo. It's named after a city in northeastern Syria, though the house isn't even in Syria — it's just across the border in southern Turkey.

The house is humble, made of concrete blocks, with tile floors. Arabic slogans are taped on the walls: "Beit Qamishlo is a house for everyone," "It's a window to Syria's future," "Under one roof we plant life together and freedom."

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2:58pm

Mon December 24, 2012
Middle East

As Syrian War Grinds On, A Rebel Keeps Reinventing Himself

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 4:51 pm

In March 2011, at the beginning of the Syrian uprising, protester Ibrahim Abazid made a massive white flag out of a sugar sack. This picture of him waving the flag in his hometown of Dera'a became a hugely popular image. Now Abazid hopes to serve on a city council in Dera'a.
Courtesy of Ibrahim Abazid

Ibrahim Abazid had no idea he would be part of a nationwide revolt in Syria — or that his role would keep evolving.

It was March 2011. Some teenagers in his hometown, Dera'a, got arrested for spray painting anti-government slogans outside a school. Rumors began circulating that the teenagers were being tortured while in detention in the southern town.

In the broader region, Arab protesters had been filling the streets for months. Dictators in Tunisia and Egypt had already fallen. Abazid and his friends went to pray.

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11:14am

Wed December 12, 2012
The Two-Way

Sources: Syrian Rebels Training On Anti-Aircraft Weapons In Jordan

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 11:50 am

To date, Syrian rebels have had to rely on small-scale weapons in their fight against the Syrian army. Here, a rebel fighter throws an explosive device toward a Syrian government position in the northern city of Aleppo last month.
John Cantlie AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. has now formally recognized a new Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. But the U.S. has repeatedly declined to provide weapons for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's army.

However, NPR has learned that there are movements behind the scenes. In Jordan, several Syrian sources said that Jordanian authorities, along with their U.S. and British counterparts, have organized training for Syrian rebels on sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.

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1:33am

Tue December 4, 2012
Middle East

A Rebel Fighter Sees Islamic Law In Syria's Future

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:18 pm

A Syrian rebel walks past the stairs of a bombed building in the Saif Al Duli district in Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10. The vast majority of those fighting against President Bashar Assad's regime are ordinary Syrians and soldiers who have defected, but Islamist rebels are also present among the fighters.
AP

It's about 9 o'clock in the morning, and already it's been a long day for Abu Anas. He has lost two men to a sniper serving the Syrian regime. Four more have been injured.

But Abu Anas walks with a striking calm through the bombed-out, ruined streets of Aleppo, a city that has been at war for months. He wears a black headband bearing Islam's holy creed: "There is no God but God. And Muhammad is his messenger."

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2:04pm

Wed November 28, 2012
The Two-Way

Syrian Rebels Claim They Shot Down Fighter Jet With A Missile

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 3:47 pm

4:25am

Tue November 27, 2012
Iraq

Iraqi Businesses Feel Pinch Of Iran's Economic Woes

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 5:31 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

We've heard about how U.S. and European sanctions on Iran have caused that country's currency to plummet and how Iran is now buying up gold and trying to dump its own currency outside its borders. Well, Iran is part of a regional economy and the falling currency is starting to hurt at least one of Iran's neighbors. NPR's Kelly McEvers sent this report from southern Iraq.

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2:40pm

Mon November 5, 2012
Middle East

In Syria's Biggest City, A Deadly Stalemate

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 6:16 pm

A rebel fighter raises his weapon after firing a missile Sunday toward Syrian government troops in the northern city of Aleppo. Syria's largest city has been the scene of heavy fighting for the past three months. Both sides control part of the city, and the fight has been a stalemate recently.
Narciso Contreras AP

Before the Syrian uprising, Aleppo was many things: Syria's largest city, its economic hub and cultural capital, one of the oldest, continuously occupied cities in the world.

Now, Aleppo has a more ominous distinction: a city that's seen some of the worst destruction, not only in Syria, but of any battleground in many years.

It's been more than three months since rebels in Syria launched an offensive to take Aleppo. In the early days of the offensive, the rebels were able to take about half the city.

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8:09am

Sat October 27, 2012
Middle East

Little Festivity As Syria's Holiday Cease-Fire Fails

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 7:27 pm

Children run after a truck loaded with presents for Eid Al-Adha in a refugee camp near Atma, Idlib province, Syria. A powerful car bomb exploded in Damascus on Friday and scattered fighting broke out in several areas across Syria, quickly dashing any hopes that a holiday cease-fire would hold.
Manu Brabo AP

Eid al-Adha is one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar. The day marks the end of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It's the feast of the sacrifice, when any Muslim who is able should sacrifice an animal and donate the meat to the poor.

There is little to celebrate in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, however. A cease-fire called for the holiday is already crumbling, and in some areas it never took hold.

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3:02pm

Tue October 23, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Activists Attack Assad Regime, With Puppets

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 8:07 am

This episode of Top Goon featured the Syrian president on the left, a member of the security forces on the right, and a photo of the former president, Hafez Assad, who is the father of the current leader.
YouTube

"I'm not crazy," the figure says, standing alone in a dark room, as if trying to convince himself.

"I'm not crazy?" almost a question this time.

"I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy!" he yells, finally making up his mind.

And, of course, he sounds crazy.

Meet Beeshu, an avatar of the embattled president of Syria, Bashar Assad, rendered in papier-mache and mounted on someone's finger. He's the star of the show Top Goon and the inspiration for its title.

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6:11am

Mon October 22, 2012
Middle East

Tensions Run High In Beirut Over Slain Official

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 7:45 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Monday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

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12:53am

Fri October 19, 2012
Middle East

In Syrian Conflict, Hezbollah Rears Its Head

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 11:03 am

Syrian children flash victory signs Oct. 2 as they stand in front of their tents at a refugee camp in Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town in eastern Lebanon near the Syrian border. The town has become a safe haven for war-weary Syrian rebels.
Bilal Hussein AP

We are standing on a roof, leaning back against the wall because of the snipers. We're right at the Syrian-Lebanese border, looking into the Syrian town of Jusiyah, standing with a rebel fighter who has his walkie-talkie going.

The rebel is part of a group fighting against the Syrian regime's army. The rebels have controlled a route into and out of Jusiyah for nearly a year.

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12:05pm

Wed October 17, 2012
The Two-Way

U.N. Envoy To Syria Heads To Damascus To Discuss Cease-Fire

Syrian rebels head towards the frontline in Albab, 30 kilometres from the northeastern Syrian city of Aleppo, on Wednesday.
Tauseef Mustafa AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations' special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is on his way to Syria's capital, Damascus, where he will hold talks with Syrian leaders about a proposal to call a cease-fire between government troops and rebel fighters. Brahimi has said he hopes the cease-fire will start next week, for the Eid al Adha holiday.

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3:53am

Mon October 15, 2012
Middle East

Video From Syria Alerts Activist To His Father's Death

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 7:48 am

The numbers coming out of Syria these days are staggering: hundreds of thousands of refugees, tens of thousands dead. The struggle, and the death, is being captured regularly on social media. The documentation not only serves as a bulletin for foreigners, but also as an alert for those with family members who become victims.

When Syrians first started protesting in March of last year, Fadi Zeidan was there. He and his friends thought the Syrian uprising would be fast, like the ones in Tunisia and Egypt.

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3:56pm

Mon October 1, 2012
Middle East

Turkey Pushes Syrians Into Limbo Across Border

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 3:34 am

Syrian refugees gather amid olive trees in an area controlled by the rebel Free Syrian Army, in northern Syria near the Turkish border, on Sept. 25. The area has become a way station for Syrian refugees pushed out of neighboring Turkey.
Michel Moutot AFP/Getty Images

Long before the Syrian uprising, Antakya, Turkey, was a storied place. Once known as Antioch, the city was home to Greeks, some of the earliest Christians, Jews and Armenians. It once was a major stop on the Silk Road.

Most recently, the Turkish city became a hub for the Syrian rebellion. For many months, Turkish authorities tolerated Antakya's status, and even encouraged it. Turkey built refugee camps for tens of thousands of Syrians, and even one for officers who defected from the Syrian army to join the rebel cause.

That support, however, is starting to fade.

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3:20am

Mon October 1, 2012
Middle East

Syria Experiences More Bloody Weekend Fighting

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Day after day in Syria, people are being killed, but sometimes it takes a weekend like this past one to remind us just how horrifying the conflict is. Government troops were battling rebels were for control of Aleppo, Syria's largest such city. And as they fought, flames spred through a centuries-old market, burning huge sections to the ground.

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2:49am

Fri September 28, 2012
NPR Story

Syrian Rebels Secure Another Crossing With Turkey

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 6:29 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

Rebels in Syria are making slow but steady advances in the north of their country. Last week, they captured a third major border crossing between Syria and Turkey, and they claim to now control a similar border crossing with Iraq. The rebels say it's all part of a strategy to secure a kind of safe zone in the north, as they try to topple the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

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12:52pm

Tue September 25, 2012
Middle East

As Numbers Swell, Syrian Refugees Face New Woes

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 5:39 pm

A Syrian refugee walks with her children at Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, near the Syrian border, Sept. 8. Around 30,000 Syrians live at the camp, with the numbers growing each day.
Mohammad Hannon AP

Syria's refugees keep growing dramatically in number, and no country in the region has taken in more of them than Jordan — a poor, desert nation that is now hosting some 200,000 Syrians.

The conditions for the refugees are perhaps harsher in Jordan than in any other country, with many people sheltered in tents on a hot, dusty plain just inside Jordan's northern border with Syria.

At the Zaatari camp, everything is covered with a layer of sand and dirt; rows and rows of tents, once white, are now a golden color.

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5:35am

Sun September 16, 2012
Middle East

In Wake Of Violence, Pope Addresses Middle East

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 6:52 am

Pope Benedict XVI waves to Lebanese faithful upon his arrival to hold a mass on the waterfront in downtown Beirut on Sunday.
Hussein Malla AP

Pope Benedict XVI said Mass in Lebanon Sunday during his first visit to the Middle East, which is seeing dwindling Christian numbers and where Christians fear Islamists will gain power now that secular dictators have fallen.

Lebanon has the region's second-largest Christian population, after Egypt. The pope spent his three-day visit promoting peace and religious tolerance.

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3:33pm

Thu September 6, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Refugees Move Into Lebanon's Crowded Camps

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 6:34 am

The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are overcrowded and run down. But Syrian refugees are moving in as they flee the fighting in their homeland.
Mohammed Asad APA/Landov

The conflict in Syria is sending a staggering number of refugees into neighboring countries. Turkey, Jordan and even Iraq are building tent cities.

But Lebanon has yet to build such camps. The country is already home to more than a dozen teeming, squalid camps for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled the war after Israel's creation in 1948, as well as their descendants.

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