Kelly McEvers

After many years in the Middle East, Kelly McEvers is back home and working as a national correspondent based at NPR West. She previously ran NPR's Beirut bureau, where she earned a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia award, a Gracie award, and an Overseas Press Club mention for her 2012 coverage of the Syrian conflict. She recently made a radio documentary about being a war correspondent with renowned radio producer Jay Allison of Transom.org.

In 2011, she traveled undercover to follow Arab uprisings in places where brutal crackdowns followed the early euphoria of protests. 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 spent weeks inside Syria with 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 gripped the country afterward. Before arriving in Iraq in 2010, McEvers was one of the first Western correspondents to be based, full-time, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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 profiled 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.

She previously covered the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia as a freelancer for NPR and other outlets. She started her journalism career in 1997 at the Chicago Tribune, where she worked as a metro reporter and documented the lives of female gang members for the Sunday magazine.

Her writing also has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Monthly, Slate and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has aired on This American Life, The World, and the BBC. She's taught radio and journalism in the U.S. and abroad.

She lives with her family in California, where she's still very bad at surfing.

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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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Middle East
3:12 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

As Numbers Swell, Syrian Refugees Face New Woes

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

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 7:39 pm

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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Middle East
7:35 am
Sun September 16, 2012

In Wake Of Violence, Pope Addresses Middle East

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

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 8:52 am

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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Middle East
5:33 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Syrian Refugees Move Into Lebanon's Crowded Camps

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

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 8:34 am

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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Middle East
3:59 am
Mon September 3, 2012

With No End To Conflict In Sight, No Winners In Syria

Omm Ahmed, a refugee from Daraa, Syria, carries her infant near her tent at Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on Sunday. Syrian civilians have borne the greatest brunt of the conflict in their country.
Mohammad Hannon AP

Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 6:15 am

The conflict in Syria is now nearly a year and a half old, and there appears to be no end in sight.

August was the deadliest month yet, with thousands of people, mostly civilians, killed in fighting around the country. While anti-government rebels are making advances, government troops are digging in their heels.

It started as a protest movement. Now, analysts in the U.S. and the region agree, the conflict in Syria is a civil war.

A Civil War

Even Syrian President Bashar Assad came close to acknowledging as much in a speech last week.

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Inside Rebel-Held Syria
1:13 am
Fri July 27, 2012

In Syrian Conflict, Both Sides Vie To Control Message

Most civilians have fled the Syrian town of Derat Azza after protracted shelling by Syrian troops. Shops are closed, and rebels are trying to tightly control any information flowing out of the town.
Bunny Coleman for NPR

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 8:17 pm

Last of five parts

The most striking thing you see when you drive into the Syrian town of Derat Azza is that it's devoid of ordinary people. Shops are closed, shuttered.

The only people you see seem to be rebels.

It seems like the only difference between this town and others in the area is that the regime made up its mind to target it. And once the regime did, there was nothing the people could do.

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Inside Rebel-Held Syria
4:08 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Unspinning The Narrative Of A Syrian Massacre

In this image provided by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network, a woman holds a child in front of their destroyed home in Tremseh, Syria, on July 14. The authenticity, content, location and date have not been independently verified.
AP

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 10:12 pm

Fourth of five parts

At least 100 people were killed earlier this month in a Syrian village called Tremseh. Activists called the deaths a massacre of innocent civilians by government forces, but later reports suggested it was something different. After spending a week with rebel fighters in the country, I discovered some previously untold details about the killings.

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Inside Rebel-Held Syria
4:51 am
Wed July 25, 2012

In Syria's North, A Shadow State Emerges

A Free Syrian Army solider mans a checkpoint in the northern town of Ariha, on the outskirts of Idlib, Syria, last month. In rural areas held by rebels, new institutions are cropping up to fill the void left by the receding Syrian state.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 9:10 pm

Third of five parts

Tucked in the olive groves and rocky hills of northern Syria, the small village of Qurqanya doesn't seem like much.

Scratch the surface, though, and you realize that this is a hub for the revolution in northern Syria, where a kind of shadow state is forming.

As the Syrian state recedes, the people in this village and villages around it are filling in the blanks with their own institutions and, for better or for worse, their own ideas about how a country should be run.

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Middle East
4:07 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Border Battles A Cat-And-Mouse Game In Syria

Battles on the Syria-Turkey border, like the one at the Bab al-Hawa border post, are a cat-and-mouse game for Syrian rebels.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 10:30 am

Second of five parts

I'm standing next to a ridge, looking at the Syrian town of Salaqin. Just up on the ridge you can see the silhouettes of a mosque and couple of water towers. It looks like a very small, inconsequential town, but because it's on the Syrian-Turkish border it's very important to the rebels.

What the Syrian rebels are trying to do right now is carve out a kind of safe zone, a buffer zone where they can gather, assemble and plan attacks against the Syrian regime's army, and also a place where they can move weapons and money into Syria.

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Middle East
6:39 am
Mon July 23, 2012

In 'Free' Syrian Village, A Plea For U.S. Help

In this image taken July 16 and provided by Edlib News Network, a Syrian girl holds a poster that reads, "Greetings from Kfarnebel's children to the Free Syrian Army soldiers in Damascus," during a demonstration in Kfarnebel, Syria. Rebels hold large swaths of territory in rural Syria. Fighters in the village of Atima recently launched their first operation against the regime.
AP

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 2:52 pm

First of five parts

It's sunset in the village of Atima. The old police station clearly was part of the government at one point. The police basically left and now the police station itself is a headquarters for the rebels.

The flag on top of the police station is no longer the Syrian flag, but the flag of the revolution. It's a bit in tatters, but it's still there.

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Middle East
1:38 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Yemen Airstrikes Punish Militants ... And Civilians

Some of the 26 children of Saleh Qaid Toayman, who was killed with one of his sons in an airstrike on Oct. 14, 2011. The family says the eldest son, Azzedine, has joined an al-Qaida-affiliated group to avenge the father's death. The group's black banner hangs in the family's home. The family says the militant group gives them a monthly stipend.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 4:46 pm

The destruction is total. In Jaar, a town in southern Yemen, an entire block has been reduced to rubble by what residents say was a powerful airstrike on May 15.

For the first time in more than a year, the sites of the escalating U.S. air war in southern Yemen are becoming accessible, as militants linked to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have withdrawn from the area. This retreat follows the sustained American air campaign and an offensive by the Yemeni government forces on the ground.

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Middle East
5:34 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Is A Protest Camp Still Needed In Yemen?

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 8:24 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Yemen's capital, Sana'a, a sprawling tent city is beginning to be dismantled. It was home to thousands of protesters for more than a year. Known as Change Square, it came to look more like Change Mile as street after street became packed with demonstrators and their makeshift homes. Kelly McEvers reported from Yemen during last year's uprising and she went back and sent this report about the changes at Change Square.

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Middle East
3:08 am
Tue June 26, 2012

As 'Hungry Season' Nears, Yemenis Struggle For Food

Displaced Yemenis receive food aid from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in the southern province of Abyan. While food is available in the country, many Yemenis cannot afford to buy it. About 10 million people are going hungry, aid groups say.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 12:32 pm

Yemen has long struggled as one of the least developed countries in the world. But now, after a year of protest and unrest that saw the country's longtime dictator step down, the situation for millions of Yemenis is dire.

Aid groups say some 10 million people are now without enough food to eat, and more than 200,000 children face life-threatening levels of malnutrition.

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Middle East
4:59 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Al-Qaida Takes To The Hills Of Yemen's Badlands

A Yemeni army tank fires at positions of al-Qaida militants near the coastal town of Shaqra, Yemen, last week, in a photo provided by Yemen's Defense Ministry. Yemen's army says it has pushed al-Qaida fighters out of towns in the south.
AP

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 12:31 pm

Yemen's offensive against al-Qaida has focused on territory in the south of the country that the militants have held for nearly a year. With the backing of the U.S., Yemen's army has cleared al-Qaida and its allies. But many local residents believe the fight is far from over. Kelly McEvers spent several days in southern Yemen and filed this report.

We're in a Yemeni army land cruiser with a shattered windshield. Our destination is the town of Shaqra, the last town in the al-Qaida badlands before the sandy ground turns into mountains.

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Middle East
6:06 am
Sat June 16, 2012

Militant Territory Cleared In Yemen, For Now

Yemeni residents walk past vehicles and houses which were destroyed during recent fighting between the army and militants on a road leading to the city of Zinjibar on Thursday.
Mohammed Huwais AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 12:27 pm

In southern Yemen, government forces backed by U.S. advisers claim they are routing al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and allied groups from territory that the militants had controlled over the past year.

This is the same al-Qaida that has tried to send so-called underwear bombers to attack U.S.-bound planes.

Abandoned Streets

Just outside the town of Zinjibar, it's clear that fierce battles went on here. It's deserted. There are no people, but there are an enormous number of bullet and shrapnel holes in the buildings.

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