Alice Fordham

Alice Fordham is an NPR International Correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon.

In this role, she reports on Lebanon, Syria and many of the countries throughout the Middle East.

Before joining NPR in 2014, Fordham covered the Middle East for five years, reporting for The Washington Post, the Economist, The Times and other publications. She has worked in wars and political turmoil but also amid beauty, resilience and fun.

In 2011, Fordham was a Stern Fellow at the Washington Post. That same year she won the Next Century Foundation's Breakaway award, in part for an investigation into Iraqi prisons.

Fordham graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics.

BABYLON, Iraq — On a mild winter weekend, the sun pours down on the yellow archways of the reconstructed palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II at the site of the ancient city of Babylon. Nearly three millennia after Nebuchadnezzar's reign, visitors from a tour group cluster to admire a brick frieze depicting strange creatures that look like lions with eagle claws.

Snapping photographs, they pass under arches, through hallways and across vast courtyards, imagining the regal ceremonies, worship and gossip of the past.

BAGHDAD — On a recent Sunday in Baghdad, a congregation of Chaldean Catholics gather — masked and distanced — to attend Mass at the Church of the Holy Family. Some are from the capital, others fled the north of the country when ISIS seized swaths of territory nearly seven years ago.

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Pandemic permitting, Pope Francis hopes to visit Iraq next month. Many of Iraq's Christians have fled the country after ISIS targeted them in recent years. So what would a papal visit mean to them? NPR's Alice Fordham has been asking.

With the gold domes of the famed Kadhimiya shrine as a backdrop, nearby streets full of shops, markets and tea-sellers in Baghdad look bustling and vibrant, even at night. Tempting windows display sparkly clothes and cascades of candy in rainbow colors.

But shopkeepers say no one has been buying much since Iraq devalued its dinar against the dollar last year.

April 2020 was a month Mohammad had yearned for. It was when he was set to fly to the U.S. with his wife and son to start a new life.

The Afghan had spent years painstakingly proving he was eligible for a special visa through his work as an interpreter with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan, and that he posed no danger to the American homeland.

"It took almost five years," he says with a sigh, speaking by phone from Afghanistan. He asks that NPR not use his full name because of threats from the Taliban against him.

High above the Mediterranean Sea, up a mountain wreathed in springtime mist and drizzle, is the monastery where the beloved Lebanese St. Charbel is buried.

The World Health Organization has begun working with doctors to test for coronavirus in opposition-held areas of Syria. So far, three tests have been conducted.

The samples — delivered across the Syrian border be tested in a lab in Turkey — all were negative. The WHO says that next week, 300 testing kits are expected to be delivered to a laboratory in Idlib province, so health workers in the rebel-held area can conduct tests themselves.

Turkey and Russia agreed to a cease-fire Thursday, to begin at midnight in northwestern Syria's Idlib region. Five Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib earlier this week and nearly a million people have been displaced in fierce fighting since December, as forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have made gains in the opposition's last redoubt.

The bond between the United States and the United Kingdom runs deep. The phrase "special relationship" was made famous by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a speech in Missouri in 1946, after the two countries fought shoulder to shoulder in World War II.

Security is still a cornerstone of the relationship, as are trade and less tangible things like shared language and the fact that many Americans are proud of their British roots.

President Trump arrives in Brussels Tuesday for a summit at NATO, the latest pillar of the international order left wobbling by his adversarial approach to allies.

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On a bright afternoon outside the elegant facade of Trinity College Dublin, students hand out flyers to passers-by urging them to vote in Friday's referendum to lift Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion in most circumstances.

"Please vote yes on Friday! Thank you! Please vote yes," chirp the students, who have big smiles and colored sweaters with "REPEAL" emblazoned across the front.

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