Callimachi named AP bureau chief for West Africa

Rukmini Callimachi, a prize-winning correspondent for The Associated Press, has been named chief of bureau for the news cooperative for West Africa.

Rukmini Callimachi, a prize-winning correspondent for The Associated Press, has been named chief of bureau for the news cooperative for West Africa.

Senior Managing Editor John Daniszewski, who oversees international news and photos for AP, announced the appointment Thursday.

Callimachi, 37, will oversee two dozen countries in West Africa from AP's bureau in Dakar, Senegal. She succeeds Todd Pitman, who recently became the AP's chief of bureau in Bangkok. She will report to Africa Editor Andrew Selsky.

"Rukmini Callimachi has documented mass killings in Ivory Coast and the trafficking of child beggars in Senegal," said Daniszewski. "Her eye for compelling detail will serve audiences around the world who want to understand this important and complex region."

"She brings a wealth of experience," said Selsky, in Johannesburg. "Callimachi has covered the news of West Africa with great distinction while making readers learn and care about those who otherwise might have no voice."

Callimachi began her journalism career in 2001 as a freelance reporter in New Delhi, India, and later covered local government for The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

She joined the AP in Portland, Oregon, in 2003. When Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005, she relocated to Louisiana and spent a year chronicling the aftermath of the storm. Her story on the unnamed dead a year after the flood resulted in two men who drowned in the same house being identified. They were brothers.

In 2007, Callimachi joined AP's bureau in Dakar. She has covered some of Africa's deadliest and most complicated conflicts, including repeated coups in Guinea and the recent political crisis and fighting in Ivory Coast that killed more than 1,000 civilians.

A series on child labor and slavery by Callimachi was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting in 2009. Her Africa coverage also was cited as a Batten Medal finalist by the American Society of News Editors for work that showed "compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the underdog."

This year, Callimachi was awarded the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award for a Sept. 1, 2010, article about Haiti's Hotel Montana, where many earthquake victims were found.

A native of Bucharest, Romania, Callimachi was 5 when her family fled the regime of Nicolae Ceaucescu. She would not return for 16 years; the family was granted political asylum in Switzerland and later immigrated to the United States.

Callimachi received an undergraduate degree in English literature from Dartmouth College and a master's degree in linguistics from Exeter College, University of Oxford. She speaks English, French and Romanian.

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