Senior International Correspondent
Arwa Damon is an award-winning senior international correspondent based in CNN's Istanbul bureau.
Arwa Damon is a senior international correspondent based in CNN's Istanbul bureau. As one of the network's Middle East specialists, Damon frequently reports from conflict zones across the Middle East and North Africa region, often focusing her work on humanitarian stories.
Damon's coverage has latterly focused on the fierce fighting in Iraq between militant Islamist group ISIS and the Iraqi national army and associated paramilitary groups. Her reporting has proven essential, guiding viewers through the complexities of the bloody and ongoing conflict. In 2018 she won a prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for her reporting on the fall of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and three Emmys for her coverage in Iraq and Syria including Outstanding News Special for Return to Mosul.
In late 2016 Damon spent several weeks in Iraq covering the Mosul offensive. When traveling with Iraqi special forces into ISIS-held Mosul, the convoy came under attack multiple times forcing Damon and CNN photojournalist Brice Laine to seek shelter in a civilian house. For more than 28 hours Damon, Laine and the Iraqi soldiers were trapped by ISIS fighters who had surrounded the house. Damon, who kept notes throughout the battle, and Laine, who shot video throughout despite suffering minor injuries, were eventually rescued by the Iraqi military.
Damon and Laine's reporting on this deadly attack was recognized with a Peabody Award for their "calm, clarity, and razor-sharp photography" on a story that demonstrates the "psychological burden of the ISIS reign of terror, especially on children." Their work was also honored with two Edward R. Murrow Awards in the 'Excellence in Video' and 'Reporting: Hard News' categories in 2017.
A recipient of the International Women's Media Foundation's 2014 Courage in Journalism Award, Damon has also extensively covered the bloody civil war in Syria and the deepening humanitarian crisis which has spread across the region in its wake. Her reports have focused on -- amongst other subjects -- the refugee crisis across Europe, the effect of devastating 'barrel bombs' air raids on the civilian population of Aleppo and moves by Turkish security forces to reinforce the country's historically porous border with Syria.
At the height of Europe's refugee crisis in 2015, Damon followed refugees from Syria and Iraq as they traveled by foot, boat and train across Hungary and neighboring countries. Her relentless - and moving - coverage demonstrating the dire situation these refugees were facing was recognized with an Emmy Award and Gracie Award in 2016.
After Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian girls from a school in Chibok in April 2014, Damon travelled to West Africa -- including the islands of Lake Chad -- as the hunt for the Islamist militant group intensified. This enterprise storytelling contributed to CNN's 2015 Peabody Award, which recognized Damon's "high-risk field reporting" that made the network's coverage of this story "comprehensive and indispensable."
In 2013 Damon travelled to the Odzala National Park in Congo where she filmed the documentary 'Arwa Damon Investigates: Ivory War', following an elite team of rangers as they track the poachers who kill thousands of endangered elephants each year.
Damon has also focused on environmental issues all over the world including the Antarctic, where in 2018 she spent a month on a Greenpeace expedition for a special report on climate change in the Antarctic region, Expedition Antarctic, and the forests of central Indonesia, where she investigated issues like deforestation and the threats of extinction that man species face in a special documentary, Sumatra: Paradise Lost?.
Following the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi in 2012, Damon was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene, recovering from the ruins of the building the personal diary of slain Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) presented Damon with their top award, the IRE Medal, for her in-depth reporting on the attack and its aftermath.
Before moving to Istanbul, Damon was based at CNN's Beirut bureau and was part of the network's team covering the Arab Spring. For her work reporting on the popular uprisings in Egypt and Libya, Damon was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story, as well as a Peabody Award for "CNN's reporting of the Arab Spring including Worldwide Coverage: Egypt --Wave of Discontent and Uprising in Libya."
In 2015 Damon launched a non-profit organization, International Network for Aid, Relief, and Assistance (INARA), based on her personal experience in war zones and war-torn nations. INARA focuses on building a network of logistical support and medical care to help children who have fallen through the cracks and need lifesaving or life altering medical treatment.
As a result of INARA's incredible impact in a short period of time, Damon has recently been recognized with multiple awards including the 2017 James W. Foley Humanitarian Award; the World of Children's 2017 Crisis Award; the Syrian-American Medical Society's Humanitarian Award; and Time Warner's 2016 Richard Parsons Community Impact Award and Excellence in Service Award, which was voted on by the employees of Time Warner (parent company to CNN).
Damon began her career at CNN in the network's Baghdad bureau. She was based in Iraq from 2003-2010, covering a number of landmark stories from Iraq including the deadly battle for Fallujah, the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein and the country's first national elections following the toppling of the Ba'ath regime.
Before joining CNN, Damon spent three years covering Iraq and the Middle East as a freelance producer for various news organizations including Feature Story News (PBS) and CNN.
Damon graduated with honors from Skidmore College in New York with a double major in French and Biology and a minor in International affairs. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts but spent most of her childhood in Morocco and Turkey.
She is fluent in Arabic, French and Turkish.