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
2:59 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 10:31 am

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
4:06 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 10:27 am

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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Middle East
3:08 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Lebanese Fear Spillover Violence From Syria

Syria's turmoil has been spreading into Lebanon, where residents say Syrian soldiers have crossed the border and killed civilians. Here, Lebanese army soldiers patrol in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, earlier this month, where clashes broke out between pro- and anti-Syria gunmen.
Bilal Hussein AP

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 6:10 pm

A rash of kidnappings in Lebanon over the weekend, coupled with deadly cross-border attacks by the Syrian army, are all worrying signs that Syria's troubles are continuing to spill over into its smaller and weaker neighbor.

In the most recent incidents, a Sunni sheik known to support the Syrian uprising was abducted. In retaliation, several Alawites aligned with the Syrian government were taken. Days before that, the Syrian army shot several people on Lebanese territory.

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Middle East
2:34 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Syria's Problems Cross Border Into Lebanoan

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 4:18 am

Recent sectarian violence has claimed the lives of more than a dozen people in Lebanon. The fighting was sparked by the conflict in neighboring Syria. Analysts fear that without uniform leadership in Lebanon, and a workable solution to stop the violence in Syria, a regional sectarian war is in the offing.

Middle East
3:04 pm
Sun May 27, 2012

Syrian Government Suspected Of Massacre

Originally published on Sun May 27, 2012 5:49 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned Syria for an attack in the central part of the country yesterday that left at least 90 people dead, dozens of them children. The council once again called on Syria's government to halt further violence against its civilians. Here's NPR's Kelly McEvers with more from Beirut.

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Middle East
4:25 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Lebanon Clashes Blamed On Spillover From Syria

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Ever since Syria descended into a brutal armed conflict, there have been fears that the sectarian bloodletting would spill over its borders. That may have come to pass. This past week, clashes in neighboring Lebanon have left more than a dozen people dead. NPR's Kelly McEvers has the story from Beirut.

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Middle East
3:16 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

U.N. Presence Fails To Prevent Syrian Bloodshed

U.N. monitors in Syria leave their Damascus hotel on Wednesday on a mission. A day earlier, their U.N. colleagues were at the scene of a major clash in northern Syria that left more than 30 Syrians dead.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 6:51 pm

There was a deadly clash in northern Syria on Tuesday, but it was different than many other such episodes over the past 14 months of the Syrian uprising.

This time, United Nations monitors were watching. The monitors are in Syria to keep an eye on the government forces and the opposition, who are supposed to be observing a cease-fire and opening a dialogue.

But the trouble Tuesday began with a funeral the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun.

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Middle East
1:26 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

As Syrian Peace Plan Crumbles, What's Next?

Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood (center), head of the U.N. observers mission in Syria, arrives to inspect the site of twin blasts.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 9:03 pm

The international peace plan for Syria is nearly a month old, and signs are pointing to a conflict that is becoming even more entrenched.

In the latest blow, two massive explosions rocked the outskirts of Syria's capital, Damascus, on Thursday, killing at least 55 people and injuring hundreds more.

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Middle East
2:48 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Jihadist Group In Syria Carries Out Violent Attacks

Syrians appear behind the damaged windshield of a minibus as they inspect the site of a blast in the central Midan district of Damascus last month. A new jihadist organization in Syria claimed responsibility for the attack.
Louai Besharalouai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 6:17 am

It was Friday, April 27, when a car bomb exploded in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan. Syrian state television showed soldiers and civilians running from the smoke of the explosion under a bridge. Then the camera closed in on streams of blood and body parts.

The Syrian regime's narrative is that the uprising that has gripped the country for more than a year is not a case of people protesting and sometimes fighting for their rights; the official stance is that it's terrorism.

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Middle East
2:42 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Syrian Government Forces Raid University Campus

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:43 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And now to the Syria, where in the city of Aleppo today, government troops stormed dormitories at the main university. This after students turned out for mass protests yesterday. At least three students were killed during the raid. Dozens, if not hundreds, more were arrested. U.N. observers are currently in Syria to monitor whether the government and its opponents are complying with a peace plan. And that peace plan is supposed to allow for nonviolent protests. NPR's Kelly McEvers tells us more about what happened in Aleppo.

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Middle East
2:40 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

A Syrian Graffiti Artist, Defiant Until Death

Zahra was an anti-government activist and graffiti artist in Syria. He and his friends spray-painted slogans against President Bashar Assad around the suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital.
Courtesy of friends of Nour Hatem Zahra

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

They called him "the spray man" for his graffiti that appeared all over the Syrian capital of Damascus. But in truth, 23-year-old Nour Hatem Zahra was an activist like any other activist.

He started protesting in Syria last spring. Back then, the opposition thought it would only take a few months to get rid of President Bashar Assad, as it had in Tunisia and Egypt.

Then Syrian forces started killing protesters, detaining them, torturing them. And the people started fighting back.

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Middle East
3:29 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

U.N. Monitors Fail To Halt Violence In Syria

Members of the Syrian opposition walk with a U.N. observer during a visit by monitors to the restive city of Homs, Syria, on April 21. Opposition activists say observers appear to help bring calm if they stay in an area. Two monitors have been deployed in Homs for the past several days.
Khaled Tallawy UPI/Landov

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 12:03 am

The U.N.-brokered cease-fire in Syria keeps unraveling. Syrian government troops were supposed to pull their tanks and soldiers out of cities and towns, while rebels were supposed to lay down their arms.

Yet hundreds of people have died in recent days, according to activists. And in some areas, visits by U.N. observers have been followed by intense violence.

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Middle East
5:41 am
Sat April 21, 2012

Homs Is Calm, A Day After Syria-Wide Protests

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 8:46 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution that would call for hundreds of monitors to enter Syria should the Syrian government not keep to the terms of a cease-fire. The government was supposed to pull its troops and heavy arms out of cities and towns, but as NPR's Kelly McEvers reports, dozens of people were killed during protests yesterday.

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Middle East
1:35 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Defected Soldiers Offer Insider's View Of Syrian Army

A Syrian soldier who defected and joined the Free Syrian Army sits at an outpost near the village of Janudieh. Some defectors say the military is committing atrocities, but that the rebels are fighting back with their own brutality.
AFP/Getty Images

Since the uprising began in Syria last year, there have been a lot of stories about soldiers who have defected from the army to join the rebels. This rebel group is loosely known as the Free Syrian Army, and it's starting to look more and more like an insurgency.

Not all soldiers who leave the army, however, decide to join these rebels. Those who simply escape the army altogether offer a rare glimpse into a military they say is committing unspeakable atrocities and a rebel force that's fighting back with its own brutality.

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Middle East
1:50 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

With A Dose Of Caution, Kurds Oppose Syrian Regime

Kurds in Syria overwhelmingly oppose the current Syrian regime but have been hesitant to join in the fighting. Here, Kurds wave the Kurdish flag as they rally against the government in the northern city of Qamishli, Syria, on March 21.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 9:38 pm

When protesters took to the streets of Syria last year, one of those who joined in was Abu Azad — a pseudonym he uses to protect his safety.

A member of the Kurdish ethnic group, Abu Azad helped organize protests in Kurdish areas, calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. But Abu Azad recently found out he was wanted by Syrian authorities.

"They were chasing me and they want to kill me," he says.

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Middle East
12:05 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Syrian Exiles Seek To Spread Word On Internet Radio

Protests in Syria have carried on despite the crackdown by the government's security forces. New Start Radio, an Internet radio station, has reported on events by speaking to citizen journalists around the country. Here, protesters take part in a March 2 demonstration in northern Syria.
Rodrigo Abd AP

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 3:12 pm

We can't tell you where Hussam and Rania live, but we can tell you they used to live in Syria's capital, Damascus.

Hussam was a creative director at a small marketing company he founded with a friend. Rania was the morning host for a radio station owned by the cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Then came the protests all around Syria. Then came the phone call.

"The radio station called me, at home, and they said, 'Rania we have to say the truth,' " Rania says.

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Middle East
4:03 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

Still Wounded, Baghdad Hosts Arab Summit

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 4:03 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Here's another milestone for Iraq. For the first time in more than two decades, the Arab League is meeting in Baghdad. Little in the way of major policy is expected to come out of tomorrow's summit, but as NPR's Kelly McEvers reports, after years of violence and war, it's a marvel the gathering is happening at all.

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Middle East
8:41 am
Sat March 24, 2012

Despite Cease-Fire Push, Violence Escalates In Syria

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The situation in Syria has deteriorated further this week. Government troops once again opened fire on thousands of protesters, armed rebels continued their own resistance, which looks more and more like an insurgency. All this despite a push by the United Nations fro a cease-fire. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: It's hard to know where to start when it comes to Syria. First, let's go the protests that continued despite the fact that violence is on the rise.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTING)

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Middle East
2:02 am
Fri March 16, 2012

A Death In Syria

Abdulrahman Abu Lebdeh was a Syrian protester who was killed last fall in his hometown of Tal Kalakh.
Courtesy of Abu Lebdeh family

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 9:14 am

The United Nations estimates some 8,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began one year ago. One of them was Abdulrahman Abu Lebdeh, 24, who was killed in the town of Tal Kalakh last fall. His parents, his brother and one of his friends, who was also an activist, told the story of his life and death to NPR's Kelly McEvers and Lava Selo.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Revisiting The Spark That Kindled The Syrian Uprising

The Syrian uprising began a year ago. Here, a protester in Homs throws a tear gas canister back at security forces on Dec. 27, 2011.
AFP Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:57 am

Last February, a group of young people were arrested for spray-painting graffiti on the walls of their school in the southern Syrian city of Daraa. They were beaten and interrogated. A year ago this Sunday, people went out to protest those arrests. And so began the Syrian uprising — an uprising that in some parts of Syria has turned into an armed insurgency and seen government troops respond with untold brutality. In all, thousands of people have died, with no clear end in sight.

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Middle East
2:40 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

For Fleeing Syrians, Jordan Offers Bare-Bones Refuge

A family of Syrian refugees in a camp set up near the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the Syrian border. Jordan has welcomed Syrian refugees, but has limited resources to help them.
Khalil Mazraawi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 8:39 am

If you're trying to escape the turmoil in Syria for the calm in Jordan, you have two choices.

You can go the legal way. Just get in a car and try to drive across the border. But that's not very easy these days. The Syrian government isn't letting many people out.

Or you can try the illegal way. Wait until nightfall, climb through a barbed-wire fence. It sounds dodgy, but if you make it over, you'll actually be welcomed by the Jordanian army. Troops will take your name, give you a drink of water, let you rest.

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Middle East
2:00 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Syrian Rebels Regroup After Army Gains Upper Hand

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 2:00 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Western governments are still debating whether to help Syria's rebels. But as they debate, the rebels are finding ways to help themselves.

INSKEEP: Syrians continue arming themselves, even after they retreated from the battered city of Homs. This week, the United Nations' humanitarian chief finally toured that city, including a rebel neighborhood, now mostly abandoned.

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Middle East
6:01 am
Sat March 3, 2012

Red Cross Restricted As Killing Continues In Syria

The Syrian government continued shelling the city Homs overnight. The latest United Nations report estimates 7,500 people have been killed since unrest began nearly a year ago. The government has also continued to refuse entry to the International Committee of the Red Cross. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.

Middle East
2:00 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Syria Update

The district of Baba Amr in the city of Homs had been the heart of the Syrian uprising, where mass protests turned into an armed resistance. Activists say government troops are combing the area, arresting any male over the age of 12.

Middle East
3:02 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Syrian Army Drives Rebels From Embattled City

Syrian mourners in Qusayr, a few miles outside Homs, carry the body of a man killed by shrapnel, during his funeral on Tuesday. After a month-long assault by the Syrian army, rebels were forced to retreat from Homs on Thursday.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 10:17 pm

A key rebel stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs has fallen to the Syrian army.

Residents fled as government forces bombarded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood for nearly a month. On Thursday, the rebels withdrew.

When the Syrian uprising began nearly a year ago, Baba Amr saw regular, daily protests. Then after months of being shot, detained and tortured, protesters began taking up arms. Those armed civilians were later joined by defectors from the Syrian military, and together, they called themselves the Free Syrian Army.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

With President Leaving, Yemen Steps Into A New Era

A Yemeni man shows his ink-stained thumb after he voted in the presidential election in Yemen's capital on Feb. 21. The one-candidate election ends President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year hard-line rule.
Mohammed Huwais AFP/Getty Images

Yemen has become the latest Arab country to depose its dictator.

On Monday, the country's longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is set to hand power to his vice president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, as part of an agreement reached late last year. The agreement was backed by the U.S., Europe and Yemen's powerful Gulf Arab neighbors. It was ratified by more than 60 percent of Yemen's voters earlier this week.

Now, the real work begins.

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Middle East
3:45 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Yemen Election: One Person, One Vote, One Candidate

A man casts his vote during Yemen's presidential elections in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Only one person was on the ballot: Vice President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi.
Khaled Abdullah Reuters/Landov

Millions of people in Yemen turned out to vote Tuesday in an unusual presidential election. There was only one candidate and only one way to vote — yes.

That candidate, Abdrabu Mansour Hadi, was the vice president under Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen for more than three decades. Saleh finally agreed to step down and transfer power to his vice president after nearly a year of mass protests against his rule.

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Middle East
5:43 am
Sun February 19, 2012

Food, Supplies Short For Syrian Regime's Opposition

Syrians demonstrate against the regime after Friday prayers in the north Syrian city of Idlib on Friday. Thousands of Syrians rallied to demand Bashar al-Assad's ouster, as the embattled president's forces unleashed their heaviest pounding yet of Homs in a brutal bid to crush dissent, monitors said.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

The offensive started on the city of Homs, where neighborhoods that have seen some of the largest protests and armed resistance to the government are now under constant fire from tanks, rockets and mortars.

Homs is in central Syria, and it is thought that if the regime lost it to the opposition, that would cut the country in half. The offensive continued in the city of Zabadani, a mountain resort town just outside of Syria's capital of Damascus.

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Middle East
1:20 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Syria's Neighbors Fear That Fighting Could Spread

The fighting in Syria was seen as a spark for clashes in the Lebanese city of Tripoli last week. Here a Lebanese woman and her daughter look out the window of their bullet-pocked home in Tripoli on Sunday, Feb. 12.
Adel Karroum EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 5:55 pm

Now that the uprising in Syria has turned into a heavily armed conflict, many in the region are worried that the violence will spread beyond its territory.

Syria borders Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, as well as Lebanon, where clashes erupted last Friday in the northern coastal city of Tripoli.

Sunni Muslims in one Tripoli neighborhood began protesting against Syrian President Bashar Assad. They put up a huge banner on the side of a mosque that had a picture of Assad, wearing a military uniform, with a big red X across his face.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Syrian Activists Live Stream Their Revolution

Activists say this image, taken from a video uploaded to YouTube, shows Syrians outside a field hospital in Homs last week.
AFP/Getty Images

Syrian troops have fired rockets and mortars at neighborhoods in the city of Homs that have most fiercely resisted the government throughout the uprising.

Mainstream journalists are barred from entering Homs, so a team of activists decided to record the offensive themselves. The activists positioned their cameras atop buildings in the city. Each morning the view is blue sky, a minaret, a sea of rooftops. Then come the booms.

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