Francesca Borri / Bari (Italy, 1980) is a Middle East based war correspondent.
Francesca moved to Ramallah, Palestine, in 2007, as a human rights specialist. She turned to journalism in 2012 with the Arab Spring, and a few years later, she was the last reporter to leave ISIS-held Aleppo. In 2018, her interview with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar paved the way to the current ceasefire of Gaza.
Francesca works mainly for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper, and al-Jazeera. Her latest book is “Destination Paradise. Among the jihadists of the Maldives”, Seven Stories Press 2018
She is now covering Covid-19 across Europe.
Francesca Borri is a pupil of late jurist Antonio Cassese, she holds a MA in International Relations, a MA in Human Rights and Conflict Management, and a BA in Philosophy of Law.
After a short experience in the Balkans, in 2007 she moves to Palestine, where she works as human rights specialist for Mustafa Barghouti. In 2012, after Antonio Cassese’s death from leukemia, she turns to journalism with an investigation on Europe’s largest steelworks, the Ilva plant of Taranto, in southern Italy – widely blamed for a spike in cancer rates. The story hits the headlines, getting the issue on the public agenda.
Back to the Middle East, she starts covering the battle for Aleppo. Paid 80 euro per double-spread story, in 2013 she writes for the Columbia Journalism Review a first-person account of the exploitation of freelancers that goes viral worldwide. Joined in Syria by US photographer Stanley Greene, she writes for the Guardian about the rise of a new rebel group: the Islamic State.
In 2014 she is shortlisted for the Prix Bayeux-Calvados with a report for Le Monde.
In 2016 she publishes Syrian Dust.
In 2016 she is the speaker of the Annual Address of the Peace Institute of Oslo.
Still focused on Syria, she starts working throughout the Middle East, and in April 2016, Il Fatto Quotidiano runs her three-page investigative report on the murder of PhD student Giulio Regeni, tortured to death in Cairo. Her findings expose the collusion of Egyptian authorities, providing new insights to Italian prosecutors.
She will be eventually banned from Egypt for criticizing al-Sisi.
In 2017 she is shortlisted for the European Press Prize with a report from the Maldives, the non-Arab country with the highest per capita number of foreign fighters.
The following year, it becomes a book, Destination Paradise.
In 2018 she meets Hamas new leader Yahya Sinwar, who had never spoken before to Western media. The interview is run front page also by Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper, and paves the way to a de facto ceasefire in Gaza.
It will be shortlisted for the 2019 European Press Prize.
Her latest book, Exodus, published in 2019 with Pulitzer-winning photographer Sergey Ponomarev, is about refugees.
So far, her work has been translated into 24 languages.