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.

Among the steady stream of asylum-seekers pouring into Germany every week, there are scores of children traveling on their own. Over Labor Day weekend, 195 of them arrived in Munich, including 17-year-old Syrians Malaz and Wissam. NPR is identifying them only by their first names because they are minors dealing with difficult personal and legal situations. Of the two boys, Malaz is the more outgoing. The hazel-eyed teen grabs Wissam's arm and with a big smile, says: "We are friends!" Theirs...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Here's an old way of thinking. Young people from prosperous families study abroad at some point. Young people from less prosperous families have no chance. It's pricey to travel overseas. DAVID GREENE, HOST: That reality is shifting in some ways. A university education in the United States is now so expensive that some students can save money by enrolling overseas. One popular destination is Germany,...

Germany may be Europe's economic giant, but Berlin remains the lone major European capital without a proper airport. The mismanaged, roughly $6 billion project to build one became a national laughing stock that has dragged on for years. Ground was broken on the airport in 2006 and the opening was delayed just shortly before the planned date in 2012. The airport's managers are now pledging that Germany's third-largest airport will open on the outskirts of Berlin before the end of 2017. Until...

For pharmacists in ever-diverse Berlin, communicating with customers requires a variety of languages. Just ask German pharmacist Julia al-Erian, who tries in English to engage a young Arab man who is trying to buy acne cream. He gives her a blank stare, so she tries explaining in German how the medicated lotion works. He looks perplexed, says "hold on" in German, then turns to a friend and speaks Arabic. Recognizing the man's language, Erian calls for Mayssoun Alkhlaif, a Syrian refugee....

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: It was one of the toughest weekends in the history of the 19-member European currency union. This morning, after bitter wrangling and a sleepless night, leaders of the eurozone finally agreed to the outlines of a three-year bailout for Greece worth nearly a hundred billion dollars. The new deal depends on Greece agreeing to strict conditions and major changes in how the Greek economy is run in the...

Looking to escape the staggering costs of a university education in the United States? You are not alone. And German education officials say a growing number of Americans are heading to the land of beer and bratwurst to get one. At last count, there were 4,300 Americans studying at German universities, with more than half pursuing degrees, says Ulrich Grothus, deputy secretary general of the German Academic Exchange Service . "We've seen an overall increase in international students in this...

Like most former Soviet satellites, Poland has grown very suspicious of Russian intentions since the Kremlin annexed Crimea last year. Poles living near the 180-mile border their country shares with Russia became especially wary after their government, among others, accused Moscow of deploying nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. That area — which borders Poland — is the westernmost part of Russia. It used to be part of Germany, but was annexed by the Soviet Union after World War...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: In Afghanistan, 13 women and girls are preparing for an unprecedented climb up their country's highest mountain. Over the past two months, they've become leaner, stronger and more committed to making the ascent. As we're about to hear, their determination has surprised an American mountain guide, who will lead the daunting expedition. And yet, there are serious cultural and emotional obstacles that...

A team of 13 Afghan women is training to climb the country's highest mountain. Only two Afghans — both men — have ever made it to the 24,580-foot-high summit. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has been following the female mountaineers' progress. You can read and listen to the previous report here . The 24,580-foot summit of Mount Noshaq pokes through a thick blanket of clouds like a bright spear. It's the highest mountain in Afghanistan and, at the moment, the only one visible from our six...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: We turn now to Afghanistan and swift justice for a woman who was brutally murdered and then set on fire by a mob in central Kabul. After a weeklong televised trial, a judge today declared a dozen people guilty of the attack and sentenced four of them to death. More convictions are expected on Sunday. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Kabul on reaction to the verdict. (SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN)...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: American troops liberated Dachau, the concentration camp, 70 years ago today. To mark the anniversary, U.S. veterans, who were first to arrive at the camp, are gathering there again. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson traveled to Dachau and nearby Munich to meet two former infantrymen who vividly recall what they found that morning seven decades ago. SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: The steady rain beats down...

Krakow is one of Europe's top tourist destinations and attracts millions of visitors each year to soak up its history, culture and architecture. But its appeal wanes during colder months when another prominent feature of the Polish city is on display: air pollution. Environmental officials say Krakow's air is among the most polluted in Poland, which in turn, has the most polluted air in the European Union. And what's the source of the smog hanging over the city during colder months? It's not...

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...

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