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.

Pages

Middle East
4:23 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Syrian Activists Protest, But Not Over Anti-Islam Video

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 5:53 pm

For the past year and a half, every Friday in Syria has been given a name. That's because every Friday, people protest against the government, and those protests get a title. This week's title? "Syrian sons and daughters of the Prophet Mohammed are being slaughtered." In other words: "To all you Muslims who are angry about the denigration of the Prophet Mohammed in some YouTube film? Don't forget about us."

Middle East
6:35 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 7:52 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
4:33 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 7:34 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
2:59 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 5:15 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
12:13 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 7:17 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
3:08 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 9:12 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
3:51 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 8:10 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
3:07 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 9:30 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
4:14 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 1:52 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
12:38 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 3:46 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
4:47 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Is A Protest Camp Still Needed In Yemen?

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 7:24 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
2:08 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 11:32 am

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
3:54 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 11:31 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
5:06 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 11:27 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
4:08 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 7:10 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
5:18 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Sectarian Syrian Group Blamed In Houla Massacre

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The massacre in the place known as Houla has kept worldwide attention on the relentless violence in Syria. Western countries and the United Nations blame Syrian government troops and pro-government thugs for killing more than a hundred people, nearly half of them children. NPR's Kelly McEvers made a closer examination of those events and found that's only part of the picture.

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Middle East
3:34 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Syria's Problems Cross Border Into Lebanoan

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 5:18 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
4:04 pm
Sun May 27, 2012

Syrian Government Suspected Of Massacre

Originally published on Sun May 27, 2012 6:49 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
4:36 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Clashes In Lebanon Attributed To Syrian Spillover

Originally published on Tue May 22, 2012 5:25 am

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
4:16 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 7:51 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
2:26 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 10:03 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
3:48 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 7:17 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
3:40 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 9:44 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
4:26 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 1:03 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
6:41 am
Sat April 21, 2012

Homs Is Calm, A Day After Syria-Wide Protests

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 9:46 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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