Arwa Damon

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Arwa Damon
Nic Robertson, Tony Maddox, Arwa Damon, Ivan Watson, and Anderson Cooper, May 2012 (cropped).jpg
Damon in May 2012
Born1977 (age 42–43)
Alma materSkidmore College (B.A.)
RelativesMuhsin al-Barazi (grandfather)
Azad al-Barazi (cousin)

Arwa Damon (born 1977)[1] is an American journalist who is a senior international correspondent for CNN, based in Istanbul. From 2003, she covered the Middle East as a freelance journalist, before joining CNN in 2006. She is also president and founder of INARA,[2] a humanitarian organization that provides medical treatment to refugee children from Syria.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Boston, to an American father and Syrian mother, Damon spent her early childhood years in Wayland, Massachusetts.[3][failed verification] Damon is the granddaughter of Muhsin al-Barazi, the former Syrian Kurd prime minister of Syria, who was executed in the August 1949 Syrian coup d'état.[4]

At the age of six, Damon and her family moved to Morocco, followed by Istanbul, Turkey three years later, where her father was a teacher and middle school director at Robert College. He went from there to Isıkkent School in Izmir, and was then headmaster of the American Community School at Beirut from 2003 until his retirement in 2013.[5]

Damon skipped sixth grade and graduated with honors from Robert College at the age of 16. She then spent a gap year with her aunt and uncle in Morocco, learning show jumping, before moving to the U.S. to attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.[4][6] She graduated with honors in 1999 with a double major in French and biology and a minor in international affairs. She is fluent in Arabic, French, Turkish, and English, having grown up speaking all four languages.[citation needed]

Before becoming a reporter, Damon worked for a New York–based Turkish textile company.[citation needed]



Damon decided to become a journalist after 9/11, and moved to Baghdad prior to the beginning of the Iraq War.[4][7] She began her career at CameraPlanet, a supplier of media content for television newscasts, working to get correspondent Peter Arnett's team into pre-war Iraq. For three years, she covered the Middle East as a freelance producer working with CNN, CNN International, PBS, Fox News and others, before joining CNN in February 2006.[citation needed]

CNN/CNN International[edit]

Damon covered the invasion and occupation of Iraq, including the Battle of Najaf and the battle to retake Samarra in 2004, the United States Marine Corps' offensive against insurgents in Fallujah and Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah near the Syrian border.[citation needed]

Damon also covered include the Iraqi elections of January 2005, the constitutional referendum vote in October 2005, and the Iraqi election of December 2005. She also reported on the trials and executions of Saddam Hussein, Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar in January 2007.[citation needed]

Starting in December 2010, Damon covered the Arab Spring from Libya and Egypt.[citation needed]

During the Syrian civil war, Damon travelled multiple times to Syria and to refugee camps for Syrians.[8] After the 2012 Benghazi attack, she was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene; she recovered slain Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens' personal diary.[4]

In 2013, Damon followed an anti-poaching park ranger unit through Odzala National Park in the Republic of the Congo. The feature was called Arwa Damon Investigates: Ivory War.[9][8]

In April 2014, after the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, she travelled to West Africa and the islands of Lake Chad to follow the hunt for the terrorists.[8]

Damon covered the International military intervention against ISIL on numerous occasions, dating to the beginning of the conflict.[8]

Damon returned to Iraq in the second half of 2016 and covered the Battle of Mosul. Riding with a convoy consisting of press and Iraqi soldiers, she came under heavy fire by IS troops and was trapped. After 28 hours of entrenched fighting, reinforcements from the Iraqi military rescued them.[8]

Damon travelled to Thailand to cover the Tham Luang cave rescue.[8]

Damon often shows interest in reporting on nature, environmental protection and similar themes. In 2018 she accompanied a Greenpeace group to Antarctica and made a feature of it.[10]

In 2019 Damon travelled to Kathmandu in Nepal to report on a spike in fatalities amongst Mount Everest climbers.[11][12]

2019 she traveled again with Greenpeace, this time to the Arctic. She reported about the significant loss of ice at the poles and their importance for the whole ecosystem of the earth.[13]


INARA (the International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance) is a humanitarian aid, 501(c)3, non-profit organization that was co-founded by Arwa Damon in 2015 in Beirut, Lebanon. INARA provides medical services for children who have been wounded in war zones. It also provides rehabilitation treatment for its beneficiaries.[14]

The organization focuses on refugee children from Syria. As of August 2018, INARA has managed to provide treatment to over 150 refugee children.[15][16][17]

Awards and honors[edit]

Damon won an Investigative Reporters and Editors' IRE Award for her reporting of the Consulate attack in Benghazi, along with fellow photojournalist Sarmad Qaseera.[18][19]

Damon was part of the CNN team who won the 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story – Long Form (Revolution in Egypt: President Mubarak Steps Down).[20][21] In 2014, she was awarded the Courage in Journalism Award given by the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF).[22]

Legal history[edit]

Damon and CNN were sued by two employees of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad claiming that on July 19, 2014, an intoxicated Damon bit them. Damon acknowledged the incident and apologized.[23][24]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Media People: CNN's Arwa Damon on War Reporting, Tattoos and Close Calls". November 10, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  2. ^ "Our Board". INARA. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  3. ^ "Word from the Headmaster". Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d Mitchell, Heidi (November 19, 2012). "Facing the Truth: CNN's Arwa Damon". Vogue. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "Special dinner held recognizing Dr. George H. Damon, Jr., retiring head of the American Community School at Beirut". American Community School, Beirut; News Post. July 15, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  6. ^ CNN Programs – Anchors/Reporters – Arwa Damon CNN.
  7. ^ Gold, Hadas. "Getting There: CNN's Arwa Damon". Politico. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Official biography at CNN". CNN. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  9. ^ Arwa Damon (January 1, 2014). "Arwa Damon Investigates: Ivory War". CNN. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  10. ^ Arwa Damon (August 14, 2018). "How the Antarctic is helping combat climate change". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  11. ^ Arwa Damon (May 28, 2019). "Nepal's government considers permit restrictions after rash of Everest deaths". Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  12. ^ Arwa Damon (May 28, 2019). "Climber: Everest trek was 'race for life'". Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  13. ^ Arwa Damon, video and photos by Brice Laine (June 8, 2019). "Arctic melt: Threat beneath the ice". Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  14. ^ "INARA – Who we are". Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  15. ^ Kathryn McQuade (July 26, 2018). "Grant awarded to The International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance (INARA)". Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  16. ^ "Inara Awarded Over $500,000 By Unicef". March 29, 2017. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  17. ^ TK Maloy (June 20, 2017). "INARA: Helping to bridge the gap in medical services for refugee children". Annahar. AN-NAHAR. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  18. ^ "2012 IRE Award winners". Investigative Reporters and Editors. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  19. ^ "CNN's Arwa Damon wins 2014 Courage in Journalism Award". CNN. May 16, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  20. ^ "Winners of The 33rd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards". The Emmy Awards. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  21. ^ Arwa Damon on IMDb
  22. ^ "Arwa Damon: 2014 Courage in Journalism Award". IWMF. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  23. ^ Goldstein, Barbara Ross, Sasha. "CNN correspondent Arwa Damon apologizes after lawsuit claimed she bit 2 medics in drunken rage at U.S. Embassy in Baghdad". Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  24. ^ "CNN Sued Over Correspondent Who Bit EMTs in Drunken Rage". TMZ. Retrieved September 14, 2020.