Gregory Warner

Gregory Warner is NPR's East Africa Correspondent. His reports cover the diverse issues and voices of a region that is experiencing unparalleled economic growth as well as a rising threat of global terrorism. His coverage can be heard across NPR and NPR.org.

Before joining NPR, Warner was a senior reporter for American Public Media's Marketplace, where he endeavored to make the economics of American health care vivid and engaging. He's used puppets to illustrate the effects of Internet diagnoses on the doctor-patient relationship. He composed a Suessian cartoon to explain why health care job growth policies can increase the national debt. His musical journey into the shadow world of medical coding won the 2012 Best News Feature award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Prior to Marketplace, Warner was a freelance radio producer reporting from conflict zones around the world. He climbed mountains with smugglers in Pakistan for This American Life, descended into illegal mineshafts in the Democratic Republic of Congo for Marketplace's "Working" series, and lugged his accordion across Afghanistan on the trail of the "Afghan Elvis" for NPR's Radiolab.

Warner's radio and multimedia work has won awards from Edward R Murrow, New York Festivals, AP, PRNDI, and a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has twice won Best News Feature from the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2009 and 2012.

Warner earned his degree in English at Yale University. He is conversant in Arabic.

Most African nations have responded to their Ebola-affected neighbors by canceling flights and closing borders. The logic driving this isolationism has little to do with advice from the World Health Organization. WHO pleads that travel bans slow the delivery of medical supplies to fight the virus while doing nothing to stop its spread, and that properly screening airline passengers when they disembark is enough of a precaution.

Some blame witchcraft. Others think it's a bad batch of moonshine.

But Esther Okaya, who lives in Korogocho, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, says even teetotalers are falling victim. One minute quarreling with a neighbor; the next minute, dead.

And it's happened to her.

Okaya's husband left her. He took the money for her children's school fees. A few mornings later, her 9-year-old son shuffled home after being turned away by the teacher.

And then she felt it. It was as if her heart seized up. She could not breathe.

Kenyans rate their police force among the most corrupt institutions in the country. Even worse, police are often accused of inflicting violence on citizens. So when a Nairobi officer was arrested for murder this week, you would think most people would applaud.

But in a strange twist, residents in the officer's district rose defiantly in defense of his vigilante approach to justice.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Chris Hillbruner has a little-known job with an extraordinary responsibility: to determine how close a given country has come to famine.

In his six years at the U.S. government's Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWS NET, he's only officially declared famine once before, in Somalia in 2011.

Hillbruner explains that the bar for declaring famine was deliberately set high to avoid the confusion of the 1980s and 1990s, when well-meaning aid agencies acted like the boy who cried wolf.

"Famine," Hillbruner says, "is a word that gets thrown around a lot."

In most parts of the world, refugees are not allowed to work.

But in Uganda, refugee life is different. One of the oldest refugee camps in Africa is remarkable not just for its stone houses instead of plastic tarps. The camp is also full of markets and traders, selling everything from imported fabric to smartphones.

Mohammed Osman Ali, a Somali refugee, runs an arcade at the camp. He rents out time on a PlayStation to other refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, or fellow Somalis.

Kenya's international airport is on high alert, since the Kenya Medical Association has called on the national airline to suspend flights due to concerns over the Ebola outbreak. The airline has responded by pledging faith in its new screening procedures. The World Health Organization has labeled Kenya a "high risk" country for the spread of Ebola.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Africa rarely gets a break — in the news headlines, anyway. But as the spread of the deadly Ebola virus continues to dominate the news cycle, there's a very different story about Africa that threatens to be forgotten.

One way to start that story is with the nearly $1 billion worth of deals to be announced this week between the United States and Africa, at a historic U.S. summit that will bring President Obama together with the leaders of more than 40 African nations.

The Baobab Resort sits on the south coast of Kenya's Mombasa Island, but it has some of the homey feel of an old Catskills resort.

On a recent day, sounds from outside trickled into the resort's largest conference hall: children enjoying their last hour of daylight on the beach, staff members singing tunes from The Lion King, warming up for their evening show.

Even in an undeveloped country like South Sudan, Ganyliel can feel like the middle of nowhere: a bunch of tiny islands surrounded by a gigantic swampy floodplain fed by the River Nile during rainy season. To get here, I took a helicopter from the capital, then ditched my sneakers for gumboots. I've waded out into water that's too deep for an SUV and too shallow for a speedboat.

I board a canoe made from a hollowed-out palm tree.

The city of Jos sits on an invisible fault line between Nigeria's mostly Christian south and its largely Muslim north. Its population is almost 50-50 Muslim-Christian.

So it's not surprising that twin car bombs in a crowded downtown vegetable market on May 20 killed both Christians and Muslims. Most of the 133 victims were women, and 25 were children.

But that could have been only the beginning of the killing, as was the case in the past.

Nigerians are asking themselves how far their government should go to bring almost 300 abducted schoolgirls back to their families.

The militants of Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping last month, have offered to swap the girls for some prisoners held by the government.

That offer was immediately rejected by the Nigerian government, but relatives of the girls say that firepower alone wont save them. They want the government to reconsider.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The president of Nigeria told a security conference in Paris this weekend that he is fighting out Al-Qaida in West Africa. Goodluck Jonathan was referring to Boko Haram, the group that abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria a bit over a month ago.

A pair of bombs killed at least 10 people in Kenya's capital on Friday. What do these and a slew of other attacks in Kenya say about the security situation in the country and the region?

The girls at St. Mary's slept uneasily that night. Rebels were rumored to be nearby and planning an attack. Calls for protection by school administrators to a nearby army outpost went unanswered.

By nightfall, all the girls "prayed to God and asked Him to take control of our lives," a 16-year-old would later tell a reporter. During the night, the girls heard boots. Then gunfire. Rough men's voices threatened to toss grenades through the dormitory windows if they didn't unlock the doors.

The commander of the rebel movement in South Sudan has agreed to talk peace — if he can make it out of his secret war bunker.

Riek Machar told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by phone on Tuesday that he would "try his best" to make it to Friday's scheduled sit-down in Ethiopia, but that he was "now in a very remote area."

There might be some truth to it: South Sudan is one of the least developed countries in the world, with almost no paved roads outside of the capital. The current rainy season can make travel virtually impossible.

It seems hard to believe now, but the tit-for-tat ethnic killing that threatens to tear apart the country of South Sudan began with little more than a political tug of war. I was almost pulled into it myself on a trip there in December. One early evening, I was in the middle of interviewing the former Minister of Education Peter Adwok when police came to arrest him.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Thousands have been killed in South Sudan since a political dispute devolved into targeted ethnic massacres. Secretary of State John Kerry visited South Sudan today. His trip is aimed at bringing the warring parties face to face to end the conflict. As NPR's Gregory Warner reports, the U.S. has special interest in the country because the United States is behind its political existence.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Mohammed Ali Isaac's hands shook as he showed his Kenyan ID to the police officers. They let him pass, but his cousins weren't so lucky. The two women had forgotten their IDs at home, and the police were threatening to load them into one of three large trucks they'd brought for the purpose.

Rwanda has a warm climate, and the people love milk. You'd think ice cream would be an easy sell.

But mention ice cream to Chantal Kabatesi, and she rubs her jaw like she's at the dentist with a toothache. When she first tasted ice cream at the age of 35 "it was like eating hailstones," the kind that fall on her childhood village once or twice a year.

"I thought, 'Oh no, what are we serving to our customers? Is it dangerous?' " she said.

Olive Mukankusi lives in a two-room house with mud walls and a dirt floor in a village called Igati, in eastern Rwanda's Rwamagana province. To get there, you have to drive about 30 minutes down a dirt road.

It's there, in her home, on a warm and sunny afternoon, that she tells a story that she's only told three times in 20 years: first to a local judge, then to an American genocide researcher — and now.

After a minute of silence at noon, Monday's remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide began with testimony from a survivor.

The screaming started soon after.

In the crowd of 30,000 gathered in Amahoro stadium in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, first this person then that began to wail and thrash. Men in yellow vests took them to a special room of mattresses in the stadium basement.

In general, Rwandan culture discourages such outward displays of grief. But not during this time of year, when traumatic flashbacks are common.

Misha Kostin, a 21-year-old construction engineer in eastern Ukraine, loves The Simpsons. He's loved it for 10 years. He says the animated series "illustrates everyday life problems in humorous ways, and offers a useful moral at the end of each episode."

And though Kostin and most of the people in eastern Ukraine are native Russian speakers, he prefers to download episodes dubbed not in Russian but in his second language, Ukrainian. All his friends in the city of Donetsk prefer the version dubbed in Ukrainian.

In Eastern Ukraine, the country's industrial heartland, many workers fear for their jobs if Ukraine joins the European Union.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Music and fireworks in Moscow today, as Russia formalized its annexation of Crimea. There was a more muted celebration in Brussels, where Ukraine signed a political association agreement with the European Union. Coming up, we'll talk about what Russia's new stance means for the U.S.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Crimea itself, the Russian takeover is working its way into many aspects of life. The new pro-Russian authorities have canceled the Ukrainian Civil Code, including all property documents. And there are rumors that anyone who refuses to accept a new Russian passport might have their property confiscated. That echoes the deepest fears of Crimea's Muslim minority, the Tatars.

NPR's Gregory Warner reports they have experienced that trauma before.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel.

On Sunday, Crimea was part of Ukraine. Yesterday, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Crimea was an independent country. And today Putin and Crimean officials signed a treaty to make the peninsula part of Russia. We're going to hear a Russian view of these events coming up.

Pages