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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The Salt
6:05 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Jihadi Fighters Win Hearts And Minds By Easing Syria's Bread Crisis

A man makes bread as residents, background, stand in line in front of a bakery during heavy fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, on Dec. 4, 2012.
Narciso Contreras Associated Press

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:16 am

In Syria, the staple of most meals is a thin, round, flat bread that we would probably call pita.

Back in November, as fierce fighting raged across Syria, people started to run out of this bread. Government forces were attacking bakeries in rebel-held areas and cutting off electricity so mills couldn't grind flour. By late last year, Syrians were desperate.

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Middle East
2:04 am
Wed January 16, 2013

For Those Still In Syria, A Daily Struggle

A family crosses a street piled with rubbish in Aleppo, Syria, on Jan. 5.
Andoni Lubaki AP

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 8:16 pm

The situation for Syrian refugees is getting dire. Much has been reported about the worsening conditions for hundreds of thousands of Syrians taking up shelter just outside the country's borders, but inside Syria, the numbers are even higher. The United Nations says some 2 million people have been displaced from their homes in Syria, and most of them end up squatting in mosques and schools. NPR's Kelly McEvers spent a night in one of those schools, in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, and sent this report.

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The Two-Way
11:38 am
Tue January 15, 2013

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

Syria door
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 12:37 pm

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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Middle East
5:13 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

A Welcoming Way Station For Syrians Fleeing Home

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

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 6:37 pm

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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Middle East
5:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

As Syrian War Grinds On, A Rebel Keeps Reinventing Himself

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

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 6:51 pm

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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The Two-Way
1:34 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 1:50 pm

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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Middle East
3:33 am
Tue December 4, 2012

A Rebel Fighter Sees Islamic Law In Syria's Future

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

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 8:18 pm

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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The Two-Way
4:04 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Syrian Rebels Claim They Shot Down Fighter Jet With A Missile

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 5:47 pm

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Iraq
6:25 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Iraqi Businesses Feel Pinch Of Iran's Economic Woes

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 7:31 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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Middle East
4:48 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Conflicts Brew Between Kurds, Arabs In Iraq

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 6:18 pm

Arab-Kurd skirmishes in southern Iraq late last week injured dozens of people and killed at least one. Now troops from both sides are escalating and tensions are high again. This all comes as Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani battles Iraqi Central government Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Analysts say Barzani has been emboldened by independent oil contracts, the increasing support of Turkey, and ongoing events in Syria.

Middle East
4:40 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

In Syria's Biggest City, A Deadly Stalemate

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

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 8:16 pm

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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Middle East
10:09 am
Sat October 27, 2012

Little Festivity As Syria's Holiday Cease-Fire Fails

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

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 9:27 pm

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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Middle East
4:55 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Syrian Activists Attack Assad Regime, With Puppets

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

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 10:07 am

"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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Middle East
8:11 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Tensions Run High In Beirut Over Slain Official

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 9:45 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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Middle East
2:53 am
Fri October 19, 2012

In Syrian Conflict, Hezbollah Rears Its Head

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

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 1:03 pm

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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The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

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

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 2:05 pm

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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Middle East
5:53 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Video From Syria Alerts Activist To His Father's Death

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:48 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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Middle East
6:20 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Turkey Pushes Syrians Into Limbo Across Border

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

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 5:34 am

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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Middle East
5:20 am
Mon October 1, 2012

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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NPR Story
4:49 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Syrian Rebels Secure Another Crossing With Turkey

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 8:29 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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