Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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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!"

In most European Union countries, it's fringe groups that drive anti-migrant sentiment. Not so in Hungary, where the government is busy stoking the fire.

Hungary is now the main gateway for asylum-seekers headed to northern Europe, with thousands arriving in the eastern European country every week. The prime minister, Viktor Orban, and his government are capitalizing on the crisis to bolster their increasingly right-wing platform.

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.

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.

Around the world, gay marriage is allowed in more than 20 countries. Many European Union nations are enhancing rights for their gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. But Catholic Poland isn't one of them.

This former Soviet satellite constitutionally restricts marriage to a man and a woman. Recent efforts to pass laws to protect the LGBT community in Poland from discrimination and violence have gone nowhere.

But there is one notable change these days — in Polish attitudes.

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.

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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.

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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 Luhansk, phones and Internet are not working.

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Israeli officials say the country's deadly ground offensive won't end until its soldiers destroy a vast network of Hamas tunnels the militants use to try to attack Jewish communities outside the Gaza Strip.

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