World events in 2019 certainly kept the international desk busy, whether it was the trade fight with China or Brexit, another Israeli election or massive protests from Hong Kong to Iraq, Chile to Zimbabwe.
Amid the constant whirl of news, the foreign bureaus were also hard at work producing the feature stories that NPR is known for. They made long journeys, dug into data, and spent time with farmers living beside glaciers, oppressed minorities, politicians, doctors and researchers, concerned parents, civilian survivors of war, and sometimes fighters, too.
As we enter 2020, the far-flung correspondents and contributing journalists looked back at the past year and have recommended some of their favorite online stories.
Mounting Syrian War Crime Cases Raise Hopes For Justice Against A Brutal Regime
An unprecedented legal battle against the regime is playing out in European courts, where large refugee communities and prosecutors can bring cases even for suspected crimes committed abroad.
Freed From ISIS, Yazidi Mothers Face Wrenching Choice: Abandon Kids Or Never Go Home
Women kidnapped by ISIS five years ago are now being freed. But the Yazidi community does not allow children born in captivity of militant fathers to return with them.
500 Years After Leonardo Da Vinci’s Death, France Celebrates His Life And Work
A new exhibition at the Louvre includes Leonardo’s sketches, drawings and 11 paintings. “You can really get into his brain and try to see how he thought,” says biographer Serge Bramly.
Here’s What Tourists Might See If They Were Allowed To Visit Gaza
Gaza has been off-limits to tourists since Hamas took over in 2007 and Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade. NPR follows a tour guide to sites, including a palace, shops, cafes and a bathhouse.
‘Afraid We Will Become The Next Xinjiang’: China’s Hui Muslims Face Crackdown
A government crackdown on China’s Muslim minorities has reached the Hui. “The pressure on not just one’s religious behavior, but how one lives one’s daily life, is unbearable,” says a young Hui man.
India’s Minorities Are Targeted In Lynchings
Lynchings of minority groups have surged in India. Most of the victims are Muslims, members of the country’s largest religious minority.
Pakistan’s Melting Glaciers Cause Alarm
Pollution and global warming are causing glaciers to melt and form unstable lakes in the north of the country. NPR visits a valley where farms were destroyed by glacial floods.
Photo Of Mother Pleading With Mexican Soldier Draws Attention To Migrant Patrol
In what a former Mexican official called the “pic du jour,” a Mexican National Guard member stands in the way of a Guatemalan woman and her son who are trying to reach the U.S. border.
Outlets Strive For Independence In Hungary, Where Most Media Back The Government
A handful of news websites are struggling to change the narrative from the dominating, pro-government media conglomerate one analyst calls a “centralized propaganda machine.”
Diplomat Kurt Volker Caught Up In Whirlwind Of Impeachment Inquiry
On paper, Kurt Volker’s job in the Trump administration was to support Ukraine and help end a war started by Russia in the east of the former Soviet Republic. Volker is now caught up in a political battle at home over President Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Turks Examine Their Muslim Devotion After Poll Says Faith Could Be Waning
Despite a rise in religious doctrine from the government, a survey shows a dip in the portion of people identifying as religious, compared with a poll in 2008.
‘The Rot Starts From The Top’: Russians Protest Over Problems Big And Small
As President Vladimir Putin approaches his 20th year in power, anger over bread-and-butter issues is sparking demonstrations across the country.
Ahead Of 2020 Summer Olympics, A Building Boom In Kyoto Is Yielding Ancient Artifacts
Archaeologists are rushing to uncover, document and preserve centuries-old objects as new hotels and office buildings go up in the ancient former capital of Japan.
‘He’s A Flawed Character And They Do Not Care’: The Rise Of U.K.’s Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is a larger-than-life British politician who likes to project the image of a bumbling, fun-loving man of the people. His many supporters in find him charismatic and politically incorrect. Critics, however, see him as unprincipled, offensive and driven wholly by ambition.
The Philippines’ Marawi City Remains Wrecked Nearly 2 Years After ISIS War
The city has a rich heritage of buildings and mosques. Today, the battle scars are as prominent as ever and residents displaced by the conflict complain about the sluggish reconstruction.
In A Remote Arctic Outpost, Norway Keeps Watch On Russia’s Military Buildup
Russia is upgrading its military capabilities with new fighter jets and navy vessels, and its submarines are pushing farther into the North Atlantic. Norwegian military officials say Russia is also carrying out cruise missile tests and live-fire military exercises. That is forcing its neighbor, Norway, and other NATO members to rethink their military strategy in the region.
‘Lives Are At Risk’: Venezuelan Charities Struggle Under Shortages And Intimidation
Local aid groups play a growing role amid Venezuela’s unprecedented humanitarian crisis marked by widespread malnutrition and deaths from preventable diseases.
Reporter’s Notebook: Africa Holds Lessons For Venezuela
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Eyder Peralta usually reports in Africa for NPR. After reporting in Venezuela this year, he describes parallels he saw with popular movements facing government repression.
Italian Holocaust Survivor Faces Threats After Calling For Investigation Into Hate
“This is a real crisis for all of us, of all the system, of all the democracy,” says the head of Rome’s Jewish community. “That means that she must be protected from the hate as it was in the past.”
Robert Mugabe, Veteran President Of Zimbabwe, Dead At 95
Mugabe led the nation formerly known as Rhodesia from its independence from Britain in 1980 until 2017. He was once seen as a hero, but his leadership grew increasingly authoritarian.
Venezuela’s Maduro Faces Mounting Pressure To Quit, Yet He Persists
The U.S. has hit Venezuela’s oil sector and government associates with sanctions and has rallied behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó, yet President Nicolás Maduro endures.
Trinidadian Mom Reunites With Kids Taken By Their Father To ISIS
After four years in Syria, two brothers returned home to Trinidad this week, following an extraordinary intervention by their mother, a renowned human rights lawyer, and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd.
‘The Economy Is Slipping’: China’s Slowdown Hits Former Boomtown
Hechuan, a city of more than a million people just outside the metropolis of Chongqing in southwest-central China, was booming. Automobile factories employed thousands of people who churned out SUVs. Now assembly lines have shut down, workers have left and Hechuan’s streets, shops and many residents’ pocketbooks are empty.
He’s Vietnamese. She’s From North Korea. They Had To Wait 3 Decades To Marry
“I knew I should stop loving him,” says Ri Yong Hui. “But I couldn’t.” She met Pham Ngoc Canh in 1971, when he was in North Korea on an internship. After years of separation, they married in 2002.
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