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.

Chancellor Angela Merkel may have won Germany's national election on Sunday, but her Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union faction only won a third of the vote, its poorest showing since 1949.

In another blow to the incumbent leader, German voters also are sending right-wing nationalists to the parliament or Bundestag for the first time in 60 years.

Exit polls suggest that decision was more of a protest vote than a German shift to the right.

Preliminary results show German voters gave Chancellor Angela Merkel a mandate for a fourth term Sunday, but with far fewer votes than needed for her to govern without forming a coalition.

Merkel had campaigned on her record as a highly respected leader not only in Germany, but also internationally, as well as record low unemployment and strong economic growth. But German unhappiness over her refugee policy that allowed more than a million asylum seekers into the country since 2015 was something she never fully recovered from.

For the past six weeks, voters in Germany have been inundated by campaign posters ahead of Sunday's national election.

Passers-by walking down the street in just about every German city, town or village get a detailed look at who is running in their district and a condensed version of their campaign messages.

Green Party posters warn Germans to "either end coal or end climate." Another message: "Healthy food doesn't come from nature that's sick."

The anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany placards are even blunter.

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The 3-year-old war in eastern Ukraine, fought between government forces and Russian-backed separatists, has reached a stalemate with world leaders trying but failing to bring the conflict to an end.

Nowadays, fighting is concentrated in five hot spots, where Ukrainian-held territory ends and the areas seized by rebels begin. The battles there aren't as much about moving those lines as they are about wearing the enemy down.

But it's the thousands of Ukrainian civilians caught in the middle who are suffering, international monitors say.

The lush, green canopy that is Bialowieza Forest spans 350,000 acres between Poland and Belarus. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to a variety of endangered species like the European bison, which is slightly larger and leaner than its American cousin.

It also has some of the last old-growth forest in Europe, untouched by human hands, and there is a great deal of international interest in preserving the forest's delicate ecology.

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Are there Nazis in today's German military?

It's a question that's been plaguing Chancellor Angela Merkel's government since the arrests in late April of two German army officers accused of an elaborate plot to assassinate the German justice minister and former German president, as well as planned attacks on refugees.

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An American university in Hungary is fighting for survival. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to shut it down, even though European Union officials are warning him not to. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

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There's a saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Apparently, so is history.

In the case of Poland's new Museum of the Second World War, the beholder is the nationalist government. Run by the populist Law and Justice Party, it has declared the museum an expensive mess that waters down Polish history and should be closed — or at a minimum, revamped. The museum opened March 23 in the northern port city of Gdansk, where World War II began when Germany invaded the city in 1939.

The right-wing government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is taking steps that could cause a popular American university in Budapest to close.

Under a bill submitted to the Hungarian Parliament late Tuesday, non-EU universities issuing diplomas in Hungary would be required to have a campus in their home country.

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Frauke Petry is a paradox. The petite 41-year-old German chemist with a pixie cut is well known for being tough as nails, chewing out journalists and wresting control of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party a couple of years after it was founded.

Emboldened by Donald Trump's win and inauguration, several of Europe's top populist leaders gathered in Germany this weekend to strategize on how they might help each other in their upcoming national elections.

Marine Le Pen, who heads France's far-right National Front, proved especially popular with the largely German crowd that packed a convention hall yesterday in the historic western city of Koblenz, nestled between the scenic Rhine and Mosel Rivers.

The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo., has begun moving into Poland as part of the biggest U.S. military deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

It's part of an Obama administration effort to deter perceived growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin isn't happy.

"These actions threaten our interests, our security," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. It's not even a European state."

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And we begin this hour in Berlin. This evening, a truck slammed into a crowded Christmas market there. It happened in the western part of the city in the heart of a shopping district.

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The German government has for the first time deported Afghan asylum seekers, sending 34 back to Kabul on a chartered flight last night. Hundreds of protesters — both Afghan and German — marched against the deportations at Frankfurt Airport where the flight departed.

The migrants' requests for asylum had been denied.

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