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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Middle East
5:49 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Members Of Assad's Sect Break Ranks With Syrian Regime

A Syrian woman walks past a poster for President Bashar Assad in an Alawite-dominated neighborhood in the western city of Homs, on Jan. 11, 2012. Support among the president's own minority sect is waning.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 9:56 pm

The Alawites of Syria were a poor, little-known Shiite minority until longtime dictator Hafez Assad, a member of the sect, rose to power in 1970. His son, President Bashar Assad, is now fighting to maintain that power in a country that has risen up against him. Now, even some Syrian Alawites say they are willing to denounce the regime, despite the risks.

A recent gathering in Cairo was much like other conferences hosted by the Syrian opposition — a flurry of activity in the hotel lobby, late-night conversations and lots of cigarettes.

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Middle East
4:42 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Syrian Government Stronghold Raqqa Falls To Rebels

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 6:16 am

The Syrian provincial capital of Raqqa is the first city to fall entirely to rebels who are fighting to bring down President Bashar Assad's regime. We have the story of Mohammad Abdel Aziz, who witnessed the fall of Raqqa from inside a prison cell.

Iraq
2:58 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Revisiting Iraq: A Sister On The Edge

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 10:24 pm

It's been 10 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. This week we're taking a look back, revisiting voices you first heard on NPR in 2007. We brought you the story of two sisters who had lost their parents. The older sister wore conservative clothes and recited poetry. The younger sister, just 13 at the time, appeared on the verge of becoming a prostitute.

Like so many stories in Iraq, especially sensitive ones involving shame and sex, this story has to be peeled away in layers, like an onion.

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Middle East
5:07 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Face-To-Face With Death In Iraq

Residents visit the tomb of a loved one at the New Kerbala cemetery in the holy city of Kerbala, Iraq, in 2007.
Mushtaq Muhammad Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 6:21 pm

On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, NPR is catching up with some of the people we encountered during the war. In 2006, at the height of the violence, we brought you the story of a woman who performed the Muslim ritual of washing and preparing the dead for burial. Kelly McEvers has this update on Um Abbas, who is now living in southern Iraq.

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NPR Story
4:43 am
Tue March 19, 2013

1 Decade Since The War, Where Iraq Stands Now

An Iraqi policeman stands guard at a checkpoint decorated with plastic flowers in Baghdad in 2008.
Ali Yussef AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 12:00 pm

Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NPR is looking at where the country stands now. NPR's Kelly McEvers recently visited Baghdad and offered this take on how the Iraqi capital feels today.

I think the single word that would best describe Baghdad these days is traffic. It can take hours just to get from one place to another. And I guess that's both good and bad.

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Iraq
5:14 am
Sat March 16, 2013

Letters To My Dead Father

Guffran, 16, sits on the floor of her home, holding a letter she wrote to her father. A Shiite Muslim, Guffran's father was gunned down on the streets of Baghdad in 2006.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 7:46 am

Ten years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, NPR is taking a look back, revisiting people and places first encountered during the war. In 2006, NPR aired a story about a 9-year-old girl who loved her father so much, she wrote him letters to take to work with him. Even after he died, in a carjacking that appeared to have a sectarian motive, she still wrote to him.

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NPR Story
5:10 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Analysts See Shift In U.S. Response To Syrian Conflict

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 7:23 am

Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the Middle East last week marked a small but, some believe, significant shift in American policy on Syria. On the surface, the U.S. has announced it is stepping up aid to the Syrian opposition and its armed wing. But look closely, analysts say, and you'll see that the U.S. is more willing to tip the scales against the Syrian regime.

Middle East
12:14 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

A Chat With A Radical Fighter In Syria

Members of Jabhat al-Nusra clean their weapons, in Aleppo in December. The Islamist rebel group has become an increasingly powerful force in Syria's civil war.
Ahmed Jadallah Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 6:51 am

The Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra has been secretive, keeping to itself and refusing to meet Western journalists. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the Obama administration and was thought to be made up mostly of foreign fighters, working alongside Syrian rebels.

But lately, members are starting to open up as more Syrians join the group and they make more gains on the ground in the fight against the Syrian government.

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Middle East
7:10 am
Sat March 9, 2013

Syrian-Americans Contribute To Rebels' Cause

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 8:19 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

For nearly two years, Syrians living in the United States have watched their home country fall apart. Now in a moment, we'll hear the story of one Syrian-American who's watched the conflict from her home in Michigan, but who hasn't escaped tragedy. First, we bring you an encore broadcast of a report from NPR's Kelly McEvers.

She told us the story of one man who used his vacation time to travel from California back to Syria. His plan: to help the rebels bring down the government.

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Middle East
4:39 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Displaced Syrians Bring Life To Ancient 'Dead Cities'

The Syrian "Dead City" of Shanshrah, in northern Idlib province. A U.N. World Heritage site, the Dead Cities of northern Syria date back to the first to fifth centuries.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:41 pm

Parts of the northern Syrian province of Idlib are a U.N. World Heritage site, known for its ancient archaeological wonders. Walking along muddy, rocky ground covered in new grass and wild daffodils, we start to see remnants of Roman structures — the columns and doorways of dwellings, temples and churches that date back to the 1st century.

They're known as the Dead Cities, and they trace the transition from ancient pagan Rome to Christian Byzantium. Until recently, they were deserted, frozen in time.

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Middle East
5:45 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Syrian-American Returns To Home Country To Help Train, Arm Rebels

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 6:20 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

For nearly two years, Syrians living in the U.S. have watched their home country fall apart. Groups have organized, formed nonprofits and raised money, and some people have made more life-changing decisions. NPR's Kelly McEvers recently met up in Syria with one Syrian-American gun enthusiast. He used his vacation time to travel from California back to Syria. His plan, to help the rebels bring down the government.

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Middle East
4:43 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

'Conscience' of Syrian Revolution Faces Challenge from Islamists

Islamists from Jabhat al Nusra stage their own protest in the town. Until recently, the group has been reluctant to appear in public.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 6:00 pm

Kafr Nabl is surrounded by rocky hills covered with olive and fig trees. Located in northwest Syria near the Turkish border, it used to be a sleepy town of about 30,000 people. Then it rose up against the government in early 2011. More than a year later, the town was "liberated" by anti-government rebels who forced out soldiers and police who worked for the government.

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Middle East
6:27 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Syrian Army Base Blocks Rebels Plans For Idlib Province

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 12:04 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And it's thought that the Syrian province of Idlib, near the border with Turkey, might be the first to fall under the control of rebels. If that happens, the area could serve as a safe zone for rebel fighters and aid workers. But one key government-controlled army base is standing in the way.

NPR's Kelly McEvers just returned from Idlib, and sent this report.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: The fight for a Syrian army base called Wadi Daif started back in October, and rebels say it's still not over yet.

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Iraq
6:42 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Sectarian Tensions Are On The Rise In Iraq

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 7:08 am

Overall violence in Iraq has gone down in recent years but lately there's been a string of attacks targeting Shiite interests and security forces. Widespread protests in Sunni areas are calling for the downfall of the Shiite-led government.

Middle East
2:46 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Conflict Transforms Syrian English Teacher Into War Photographer

Nour Kelze, a 25-year-old from Aleppo, Syria, was teaching English at a private school when the uprising started two years ago. Since then, she has learned to be a war photographer and has been sending photos to the Reuters news agency.
Stephanie Freid Courtesy of Nour Kelze

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 1:33 pm

Syria's war has thrown ordinary citizens into situations they never could have imagined and changed them in ways they never would have dreamed. It's turned carpenters, engineers and doctors into armed rebels. And in Aleppo, it has turned a young female teacher into a war photographer.

We first met Nour Kelze back in October, on our first trip to Aleppo. We asked her to work with us as an interpreter. She agreed but said she also would be shooting pictures.

Kelze, 25, had been teaching English and only recently became a war photographer.

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The Salt
6:29 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
5:02 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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NPR Story
5:37 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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