KRWG

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

International correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin and covers Central Europe for NPR. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

She was previously based in Cairo and covered the Arab World for NPR from the Middle East to North Africa. Nelson returns to Egypt on occasion to cover the tumultuous transition to democracy there.

In 2006, Nelson opened the NPR Kabul Bureau. During the following three and a half years, she gave listeners in an in-depth sense of life inside Afghanistan, from the increase in suicide among women in a country that treats them as second class citizens to the growing interference of Iran and Pakistan in Afghan affairs. For her coverage of Afghanistan, she won a Peabody Award, Overseas Press Club Award and the Gracie in 2010. She received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award from Colby College in 2011 for her coverage in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Nelson spent 20 years as newspaper reporter, including as Knight Ridder's Middle East Bureau Chief. While at the Los Angeles Times, she was sent on extended assignment to Iran and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She spent three years an editor and reporter for Newsday and was part of the team that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for covering the crash of TWA Flight 800.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nelson speaks Farsi, Dari and German.

Zahra Karimi Nooristani, 18, cautiously works her way down a rock face high above Kabul as her coach, Farhad Jamshid, guides her. It is hazardous for his top female student to be rappelling here, not only because of the steep drop, but because she is using a frayed, 9-year-old rope handed down from the men's mountaineering team. Another danger she faces is the prospect of her neighbors finding out she's climbing at all. Afghanistan is a mountainous country, but scaling the peaks for sport is...

The airline operating the plane that crashed in the French Alps says the plane had been inspected and found safe Monday. Officials in the German town that lost 16 schoolchildren in the disaster say there will be no classes tomorrow, but children will be welcomed for counseling. Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: We go now to Dusseldorf, Germany. That was the destination of the Germanwings flight. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson arrived...

Asylum-seekers are flooding into Germany in record numbers, with more than 200,000 applying for that status last year, many from Muslim countries, according to the government. This is fueling tensions on several fronts. Overwhelmed local officials often house the new arrivals in old schools and re-purposed shipping containers in neighborhoods where they aren't always welcome. The western German city of Schwerte even proposed placing 21 refugees in a barracks on the grounds of a Nazi-era...

Sadiqu al-Mousllie sees humor as a good way to fight growing anti-Islam sentiment in Germany. He lives in Braunschweig, in western Germany. Earlier this month, he decided to go downtown and hold up a sign that read, "I am a Moslem. What would you like to know?" "This is a bridge of communication," the Syrian-born German says. "Some people dared to ask, some others not, so we went to them and give them some chocolate and a say of our prophet to know what Muslims are thinking about." Mousllie,...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: The city of Rio de Janeiro is rushing to get everything done before next summer's Olympics. But there is local opposition to how some projects are being managed, in particular, the construction of an Olympic golf course while the country faces a water crisis. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Sitting under the shade of a tree on a hot, cloudless summer day, a group...

Seventy years ago, Soviet soldiers liberated Auschwitz, the most notorious of Nazi concentration camps. Some 300 Holocaust survivors were at Auschwitz on Tuesday, along with several European presidents and other government officials, to honor at least 1.1 million people who were murdered, 1 million of whom were Jewish. Among those killed there were Jack Mandelbaum's mother and brother. The Polish-born Mandelbaum survived, spared at the last minute by an officer of the dreaded SS who yanked...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A housing shortage for asylum seekers in Germany has led one city to propose a controversial solution that would place 21 refugees in a barracks on the grounds of a Nazi-era concentration camp. Carsten Morgenthal, who is a spokesman for the city of Schwerte in North Rhine Westphalia, tells the Westdeutsche Allgemeine newspaper it isn't the first time this would be done. Two decades ago, Schwerte officials also placed refugees at what was once a forced labor branch of the notorious Buchenwald...

Romania is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in Europe and it's been that way for years. It's a tough legacy to overcome, but there are signs the country is trying to make a fresh start. Klaus Iohannis, an underdog presidential candidate who campaigned on a platform of fighting corruption, won a surprising victory last month over the ruling party's nominee. Iohannis, 55, was sworn into office last Sunday. To make headway, he'll need to work in tandem with Laura Codruța Kövesi, who...

Twenty-five years ago, the Communist leaders of Eastern Europe were falling like dominoes. And on Christmas Day in 1989, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed by firing squad. The deaths of the despised couple ended a quarter-century of iron-fisted rule that translated into oppression and misery for most Romanians. Yet many in that country — including some of their opponents — question the summary nature of the Ceausescus' trial and sentence. One is the...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: On Sunday, Romania will swear in a new president, the first to hail from Romania's German minority. Klaus Iohannis was a little-known regional mayor before he scored a surprise win last month over the current prime minister. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson sent this report. KLAUS IOHANNIS: (Speaking foreign language). SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Hundreds of people in the historic Romanian town of Alba...

Manfred Karg says he doesn't know how his eldest son, Alfons, became mixed up with radical Islamists. Whatever happened, the German pensioner's 19-year-old son from Hamburg is now dead, one of at least 60 Germans killed fighting alongside ISIS militants, nine of them in suicide attacks, according to German authorities. Karg says two young men with an "immigrant background" knocked on Alfons' mother's door to tell her of his death in Syria last summer. "When she opened up, they said: ...

All of us are familiar with the sound a smartphone makes when an email or text has arrived. Our somewhat Pavlovian response is to pick up the device, see who the message is from and read it. In Germany, a growing number of these emails come from the boss contacting employees after work. That's not healthy, say experts on work-related stress, including psychologist Gerdamarie Schmitz in Berlin, who is feeling the technological encroachment herself. "This horrible phone I have with me, and so I...

Like many Iranians living abroad, Babak Shafian cringed whenever Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his country's former president, spewed hate-filled rhetoric about Israel. The 33-year-old computer scientist says the diatribes ignored thousands of years of shared history between Jews and Persians. "The main thing which annoyed me really is that Ahmadinejad was presented in the Western media as the main voice of Iranian society," says Shafian, who moved to Germany 14 years ago. He decided the best antidote...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: This evening, 8,000 helium balloons lit up the root of what was the concrete and barbed wire barrier known as the Berlin Wall. The installation marks a quarter-century since the wall was breached and thousands of Berliners from the Communist East flooded into the Capitalist Western half of the city. NPR's Berlin correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has gone over to the balloon wall to view the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bN9ZRj3NBs To many Germans, Harald Jaeger is the man who opened the Berlin Wall. It's a legacy that still makes the former East German border officer uncomfortable 25 years after he defied his superiors' orders and let thousands of East Berliners pour across his checkpoint into the West. "I didn't open the wall. The people who stood here, they did it," says the 71-year-old with a booming voice who was an East German lieutenant colonel in charge of passport...

German authorities say they're investigating possible neo-Nazi involvement in the theft of an iron gate at the former Dachau concentration camp bearing the infamous phrase: "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work Makes You Free." Those eerie words greeted some 200,000 prisoners who arrived at Dachau, which was the first concentration camp the Nazi regime opened in Germany. Tens of thousands of people sent there died from starvation and overwork as well as from medical experiments, torture and violence...

Berlin is an on-again, off-again capital with a darker history than most cities in Europe. It served as the epicenter of Hitler's Third Reich and was nearly wiped off the map at the end of the last World War. Berlin was also the flashpoint of the Cold War between the United States and Russia. Their conflict split the city into two, leaving residents on either side cut off from each other in every way imaginable for a generation. Still, visitors hoping to relive a John le Carre Cold War spy...

Germany's defense minister warns that her country currently can't meet its long-term NATO commitments because of a widespread grounding of German military planes and helicopters. "At the moment, we are below the target numbers announced a year ago on airborne systems we would want to make available to NATO within 180 days in cases of emergency," Ursula von der Leyen told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag over the weekend. "The reason is the delays in getting replacement parts" for planes...

Germany is the world's third-largest arms exporter and Sigmar Gabriel, the country's minister for economic affairs, is determined to move his country farther down that list. Gabriel argues that exporting billions of dollars in arms annually, much of it to countries with questionable human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, is at odds with the pacifist identity Germany established after World War II. In late July, he told German public television broadcaster ZDF, "There are basic rules in...

In Berlin, thousands of people gathered at the Brandenburg Gate on Sunday to demonstrate against a wave of harassment and attacks against Jews in Germany. Many blame the rising anti-Semitism there and across Europe on tensions over the Gaza conflict. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended the Berlin rally, said there is no place for anti-Semitism in Germany, particularly because of its Nazi past, and that fighting it is every German citizen's duty. Merkel is usually reserved in her reproaches...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: NPR's Business News starts with new sanctions against Russia. The European Union imposed more sanctions today on Russia's financial, energy and high-tech sectors. They're also targeting individuals suspected of meddling in Ukraine. The United States has pledged to follow suit. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports. SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: The newest EU sanctions were originally drawn up last...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: I'm Melissa Block. And as we've been reporting, NATO and world leaders are sharpening their criticism of Russia over its actions in Eastern Ukraine. And in Ukraine, residents of a strategic port city are working alongside government soldiers. They're building up the city's defenses against a widely anticipated assault. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is Mariupol and sent this report. SORAYA SARHADDI...

Ukraine has accused Russia of trying to open a new front in the war between the government and pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine says its troops are involved in heavy fighting with an armored force that it says entered Ukrainian territory. Kiev has also released video of what it says is a group of captured Russian soldiers. Russia says the soldiers might have crossed the border inadvertently. Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED - I'm Audie Cornish. ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: And I'm Robert Siegel. There's been strong international reaction to Russia's latest action in Ukraine. This morning a convoy of Russian trucks crossed the Ukrainian border. Moscow says the trucks are carrying aid for civilians. But Ukraine says the convoy crossed the border without permission and without Red Cross...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Ukrainian government claims its armed forces have recaptured a large part of the eastern city of Luhansk following fierce battles Wednesday with pro-Russian separatist fighters. This is part of a broader campaign by the Ukrainians that has been marked by a number of successes recently. But as is often the case here, it's impossible to independently verify what either side says. Both the military and the rebels prevent reporters from getting near embattled areas, and in many places like...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: There's been more heavy fighting in Eastern Ukraine today. Ukrainian government troops are said to be battling block-by-block inside the separatist-held city of Luhansk. In addition, they claim to be closer to retaking the major city in the region, Donetsk. ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Also today, the Ukrainian military said, it has begun collecting the bodies of refugees killed in an alleged missile attack on...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: Ukraine says its artillery has destroyed a number of Russian military vehicles. Ukraine says those vehicles crossed into its territory overnight. NATO says the same. But Russia denies any of its forces crossed into Ukraine. Meanwhile, a controversial convoy that the Russians say is carrying humanitarian aid has been halted on the Russian side of the same border. And there have been other attempts to...

Pages