Dreaming Big with the Liverpool Giants :: Lucy Kafanov reports

In Liverpool this weekend, we were treated to an unusual sight: Giants roaming the streets. This was puppetry of colossal proportions — brought to us by the French street theater company Royal Deluxe. It was the third time these gentle giants visited Liverpool, and the last the world will get to see them. We were lucky enough to experience the magic and the wonder — reminding us all to dream big.

Check out our story for NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt:





Meet Russia's Arctic Army

As President Donald Trump seeks to open the Arctic waters for offshore oil and gas drilling, there's a race unfolding for the remote region's mineral wealth. Russia's military is on the march in the arctic - its biggest push in the region since the fall of the Soviet Union. NBC's Lucy Kafanov is the first American journalist to get access to Russia's newly-formed arctic brigade on the northern frontier near the border with Finland.

Watch our story below or read more here: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russia-s-military-buildup-arctic-has-u-s-watching-closely-n753041

Vocativ: Turkey And Russia: True Frenemies When It Comes To Syria

It was the nightmare scenario analysts warned about ever since Russia formally entered the Syrian conflict: Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, dramatically escalating tensions between the NATO member country and Moscow while raising the prospect of further chaos in the Middle East.

“There was plenty of time from the first warning to the shot being fired for this to run up and down the chain of command,” said Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at St. Lawrence University in New York state. “I don’t think this was an accident. I think this was a game of chicken that went wrong.”

You can read the rest of my story for Vocativ here: Turkey And Russia: True Frenemies When It Comes To Syria

Newsweek: In Germany, Shock, Sympathy and New Debate Over 'Open Door'

In my latest story for Newsweek, I examine Germany's reaction to the devastating attacks in Paris and whether they are likely to affect Berlin's open-door policy towards refugees.

You can read the story here: In Germany, Shock, Sympathy and New Debate Over 'Open Door'

I also contributed some reporting to Bill Powell's excellent cover story for the magazine, Paris Attacks Show 9/11 Changed Everything and Nothing. If you have a few spare minutes, it is worth a read.

"Where we come from, there is only death."

I have a new story out in USA Today, along with several photographs, documenting the perilous journey of war refugees as they seek safety and better opportunities in Europe. Here's a short excerpt: 

IDOMENI, Greece — Clutching his son as he trudged through a field of sunflowers toward Greece’s border with Macedonia, Aladdin Shoumali’s eyes glistened with tears in the dim moonlight as he described why he fled his native Syria.
“My daughter dead, my father and brother dead, our home destroyed — we lost everyone, everything in this terrible war,” said Shoumali, 34, wincing as the toddler let out another piercing cry. “My son is sick and we have not slept in days, but there is nothing to do except keep walking.”
So they pressed on, part of an unrelenting tide of desperate people fleeing war-torn homelands to find refuge and better opportunities in Europe. More than 340,000 people have entered Europe so far this year — surpassing 100,000 in July alone — in what authorities describe as the worst refugee crisis since World War II. With unprecedented numbers of migrants making the long and perilous journey to reach European Union borders, countries are struggling to cope.

Read the rest of the story on the USA Today website: Migrants press on, hoping to find refuge anywhere in Europe

Seeking refuge from war, thousands cross from Greece into Macedonia

I spent several days at the Greek-Macedonian border, covering the plight of migrants -- most of them families seeking refuge from bloody conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. These are a few of the photographs from my time with them:

A long and difficult day on the Greek-Macedonian border, with hundreds of refugees waiting for hours in the sweltering heat to be able to cross. There there was no aid presence whatsoever in the early hours of the morning -- just us and the Macedonian riot police. By the afternoon, a handful of volunteers began to trickle in to help. An ice cream vendor set up his cart right next to the border crossing, but not before treating several dozen children to free cones.

The United Nations expects up to 3,000 migrants to cross into Macedonia every day in the next few months -- most of them refugees fleeing war.

A young girl takes a nap as her family waits for the Macedonian-Greek border crossing to open.

Surrounded by Macedonian riot police, a Syrian boy waits to cross into the country from Greece.

Hundreds of migrants wait on the train tracks for Macedonians to open the border crossing.

UNICEF has established a child-friendly space with a mobile team near Gevgelija town, at the border with Greece to provide much needed support to women and children on the move through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. At the moment, there are no such facilities on the Greek side where refugees are massing as they wait to cross.

AJE: Refugees flee Syrian border town as Kurdish forces push back Islamic State fighters

This week, Syrian Kurdish fighters -- backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and a group of Syrian rebel allies -- wrested control of a key Syrian border town from the so-called Islamic State. My report from the Turkish-Syrian border for Al Jazeera English:

Years of instability and political uncertainty have taken their toll on Tal Abyad's residents. Several of the refugees crossing back home refused to answer reporters' questions, citing security concerns.

Whoever controls the town is in charge. I have learned long ago that political opinions are best kept private. Returning Tal Abyad resident "Whoever controls the town is in charge," said a man who was heading back to Tal Abyad with his wife and two daughters. "I have learned long ago that political opinions are best kept private."

Read more here: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/06/refugees-syria-tal-abyad-face-uncertain-future-150618101233030.html

New in USA Today: Turkey's election provides key test for president's power

I travelled to southeastern Turkey to cover the closely-contested election from the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir -- a key stronghold of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), which entered the parliament for the first time in Turkey's history.

I filed this story on election night for USA Today:

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party suffered a crushing defeat at the ballot box Sunday, as results showed the government losing its single-party majority for the first time since sweeping to power in 2002.

Read the rest of the story here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/06/07/turks-head-to-the-polls-in-crucial-parliamentary-election/28640219/

And here's a shot of the story in the print paper:

New for Al Jazeera English: Turkey's Diyarbakir hopes for 'a new era'

I covered Turkey's historic elections from the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. 

Here is my newest story for Al Jazeera about the significance of the vote for the residents of this Kurdish enclave: 

Situated along the Tigris River, this city of nearly a million people has long been the bastion of Kurdish nationalism. For three decades, Diyarbakir had been at the heart of the war between the state and PKK fighters. As a result, Kurds have been shut out of Turkish politics, unable to win enough seats to enter the parliament as a political party. But on Sunday, the city became the centre of Kurdish celebration.

Read the rest of the story here: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/06/turkey-diyarbakir-hopes-era-150608111516215.html

Turkey Votes: What's at stake in the upcoming elections?

For Turkey's deeply-polarized electorate, the parliamentary elections next Sunday are shaping up as a referendum on the increasingly authoritarian Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who seeks to rewrite the country's constitution to consolidate power in the presidency. Read my  latest for the Christian Science Monitor: 


A very young supporter of President Erdogan holds a Turkish flag at a rally celebrating the 562nd anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul.

Kurdish supporters of the HDP attended a large political rally less than 5 kilometers away from yesterday's Conquest of Istanbul event. Seeking to expand beyond its traditional Kurdish base, the HDP has branded itself as the most progressive force in Turkish politics -- attracting a rainbow coalition of voters that includes Kurds, leftists, progressives, and Erdogan opponents without a party to call home.