Correspondent / behind the news

The mosquito from hell

Feb 5 2016

Kleisse and Matheus with Pietro at home. January, 2016. (AFP/Christophe Simon)

(AFP/Christophe Simon)

"It breaks my heart to see these children and their parents at the Sister Dulce, a Catholic hospital in Salvador, where a non-governmental organization provides care for the poor," writes AFP's Sao Paolo-based correspondent Natalia Ramos, who traveled to the Brazilian region to report on the spread of the Zika virus.

"Each case of microcephaly is unique and the degree of the damage depends on the zone of the brain that is affected. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that each of these babies will become a handicapped child and then adult, in families that have very few resources to take care of them."

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Transgender and proud in Lebanon

Feb 4 2016

Hans and Toy walk in downtown Beirut. January, 2016. (AFP/Patrick Baz)

(AFP/Patrick Baz)

"I never realized we had transsexuals in Lebanon," writes AFP's veteran photographer Patrick Baz, currently based in Beirut. "Or rather, every country has its trasnssexuals and transgenders, but I didn’t realize they would go public here. When I did, it was a bit of a shock. We are still in the Middle East after all."

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Abandoned to anarchy in Calais

Feb 3 2016

The Jungle. January, 2016. (AFP/Philippe Huguen)

(AFP/Philippe Huguen)

"To spend time in the Jungle -- the infamous migrant camp on the edge of the French port of Calais -- is to visit a place where thousands have been abandoned to anarchy," writes AFP's Paris-based journalist Eric Randolph.

"People hunting the dream of a better life in Britain have been coming here for decades -- at least since the completion of the Channel Tunnel in 1994 gave the illusion that one could simply walk to the shores of Dover."

"As security has tightened and the crossing has become ever harder, the population of the Jungle has swelled and the camp has taken on a semi-permanent feel... and the Jungle has become -– quite by accident -- an experiment in anarchic governance."

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What if this baby were mine?

Feb 1 2016

A man stands next to the body of a migrant child washed up on a beach in Canakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016 (AFP / Ozan Kose)

(AFP / Ozan Kose)

"The baby is the first dead body I see when I get to the beach. He looks like he is nine or ten months old. He is dressed warmly and was wearing a hat. An orange pacifier is attached to his clothes," writes AFP's Istanbul-based photographer Ozan Kose, who took pictures of a Turkish beach the morning after a boat overloaded with refugees seeking a better life in Europe sank off shore.

"For the moment, noone is taking care of the dead baby. I return to him and stay there, for about an hour, silent. I have a baby boy who is five months and a daughter who is eight years old. I ask myself what I would do if this were my baby."

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Sanders or Trump? An Iowa heart -- and vote -- at stake

Jan 29 2016

Pauline McAreavy in her Iowa home. (AFP/Jim Watson)

(AFP/Jim Watson)

Pauline McAreavy, a feisty 82-year-old from Iowa, helps AFP's Washington-based correspondent Ivan Couronne understand why anti-establishment candidates like Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders have become the rock stars of the US political primary season.

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Exodus under the Balkan snow

Jan 28 2016

(AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

(AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

"With the cold and snow that descend on the Balkans in the winter, the number of refugees trekking the so-called Balkan migrant route has dwindled from the sea of humanity that made the journey each day in the summer and autumn," writes AFP's Bulgaria-based photographer Dimitar Dilkoff.

"But they are still coming, walking on foot through the freezing cold and snow."

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As long as it takes

Jan 27 2016

Guantanamo, April, 2014. Photo made during an escorted visit and approved by the US military. (AFP/Mladen Antonov)

(AFP/Mladen Antonov)

It has been eight years since the United States first charged five men with plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks and killing nearly 3,000 people. If it isn’t already, their case will soon become the longest prosecution in US history. 

On a visit to the US Guantanamo naval base in Cuba, where the court proceedings are taking place, AFP's Pentagon correspondent Thomas Watkins finds out why.

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Chasing a dance to relax

Jan 25 2016

January 14, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

(AFP/Menahem Kahana)

"Maybe it’s because I do so many pictures of funerals and of people being killed that I like to do something else," writes AFP's veteran Jerusalem-based photographer Menahem Kahana.

"Maybe it’s because when I was a kid, I was a bird watcher. I don’t know. But this is the stuff I do for fun."

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Iran nuclear talks: the day the story died

Jan 22 2016

The Iranian flag outside the Vienna International Centre. July, 2014. (AFP/Joe Klamar)

(AFP/Joe Klamar)

"When it finally came late on a Saturday night, the announcement was momentous: the Iran nuclear deal had entered into force," writes AFP's Vienna-based correspondent Simon Sturdee, who spent countless days covering the ins and outs of the oft-tortuous diplomacy.

"The UN atomic watchdog announced that yes, Iran really had curbed its nuclear programme. Sanctions were lifted and after 13 years, a dangerous standoff was over.

"But for me, who has covered the ins and outs of the story for nearly five years, this was also a moment tinged with sadness -- the twisting, fascinating and often infuriating saga was finally over. Well, probably."

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Refugee influx divides Germany

Jan 21 2016

Top: (AFP/John Macdougall)/Bottom: (AFP/Roberto Pfeil)

Top: (AFP/John Macdougall)/Bottom: (AFP/Roberto Pfeil)

"Safe, prosperous Germany just had a mad year, when a ground-breaking influx of over one million asylum seekers sparked sky-high hopes and rekindled deep-seated fears," writes AFP's Berlin-based correspondent Frank Zeller.

"The New Year, at the stroke of midnight, shaped up to be 2015 Reloaded, or worse. Will this be the year when German Angst makes an ugly comeback? 

"The entire country is asking the same question. And so far, the signs are mixed."

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California dreaming on Nordic winter days

Jan 20 2016

Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, light up the Nordic winter darkness. November, 2015. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

(AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

When that Nordic winter sets in, Stockholm deputy bureau chief Pia Ohlin starts dreaming of being a California girl.

"If you spent half of your life in Canada and the other half in Sweden, slogging through months of darkness that is winter in the northern hemisphere, you too would dream of sunny days on a warm sandy beach," she writes.

"It's not the cold that gets to you living in Sweden....It's the darkness that hits you."

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The numbing predictability of the Istanbul tragedy

Jan 18 2016

Istanbul's Blue Mosque two days after the attacks. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

(AFP/Ozan Kose)

"It’s conventional after attacks to express surprise and shock," writes Stuart Williams, AFP's Istanbul-based deputy bureau chief in Turkey.

"But when a suicide bomber ripped through a group of German tourists on a morning last week in central Istanbul the shock was genuine, but no-one could feign surprise. This was the attack that everyone had feared."

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Gunfight in the heart of Jakarta

Jan 15 2016

Police take cover. (AFP/Bay Ismoyo)

(AFP/Bay Ismoyo)

"I was reaching for my coffee when I heard the thump," writes Jakarta-based photographer Bay Ismoyo. "It didn’t sound like a blast. More like a heavy metal part falling to the ground. I thought it was a crash between cars, or something falling from the roof. So I left the coffee on the counter and ran outside."

"I have to confess that I’m still shocked to have seen this. It’s the first time that I see a gunfight between police and terrorists right in front of me like this, so close. And it was in downtown! It’s the heart of my city, very close to the palace, to the embassies. It shakes you up."

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A baby in parliament

Jan 15 2016

Carolina Bescansa arrives with baby. (AFP/Pierre-Philippe Marcou)

(AFP/Pierre-Philippe Marcou)

"Photographing parliament sessions is never particularly exciting -- they usually involve sitting through hours of discussion and rarely do you get a non-institutional picture," writes AFP's Madrid-based photographer Pierre-Philippe Marcou. "Unless of course a deputy spends the session with a five-month-old infant on her lap."

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Melting in Harbin ice

Jan 14 2016

(AFP/Wang Zhao)

(AFP/Wang Zhao)

"The thing that struck me about the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival was just how relaxed everyone was," writes Beijing-based photographer Wang Zhao. "It struck me because noone paid any attention to me taking pictures of them with my camera. In Beijing, when you take pictures of people on the street, they often shy away, can get unhappy or even angry. But here, noone cared. It’s like the usual reserve melted away."

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Get your motor running - women bikers in Muslim lands

Jan 13 2016

(AFP/Atta Kenare, AFP/Fadel Senna, AFP/Khaled Desouki, AFP/Patrick Baz)

AFP/Atta Kenare, AFP/Fadel Senna, AFP/Khaled Desouki, AFP/Patrick Baz)

I don’t remember exactly when, but a little while back I realized that there were women in Lebanon riding motorcycles," writes Beirut-based photographer Patrick Baz. "Now the country has a lot of different aspects and in many ways is very European, but still, we’re in the Middle East here and women riding motorcycles is not an ordinary thing. So I decided to look into it further."

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Emptying the canal

Jan 11 2016

(AFP/Patrick Kovarik)

(AFP/Patrick Kovarik)

"It’s a ritual that unfolds every 10 to 15 years in what has become one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Paris. Canal Saint Martin is emptied in order to be cleaned and renovated," writes AFP's photographer Patrick Kovarik.

"A great occasion for residents and the curious alike to see what has been lying below the waters. Turns out the canal is not only one of the city’s favorite socializing spots. It’s also a favorite trashcan."

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The refugee crisis, through AFP journalists' eyes

Jan 8 2016

A woman falls into the water with her child at a Lesbos beach after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey in October. (AFP/Aris Messinis)

(AFP/Aris Messinis)

From the Greek island of Lesbos, to the sea between Thailand and Malaysia. From train tracks in Mexico to dusty camps in South Sudan. Over the past year, AFP blogs has published scores of stories on the refugee crisis all over the world, in which the agency's journalists recount covering the tragedy.

These are the stories that we have published since the start of 2015, a year that saw a million refugees and migrants fled to Europe alone, according to UN's refugee agency. We will update the page with new blogs as they are published, so check back.

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In the holy house of... the skateboard

Jan 7 2016

(AFP/Cesar Manso)

(AFP/Cesar Manso)

Looking for a nice photo essay to do in the quiet period between Christmas and New Year, AFP's photographer stringer in northern Spain Cesar Manso stumbled upon a temple to skateboarding. Literally.

It's called the Church of Skate.

A former house of the Lord bought by a group of skateboarding enthusiasts who wanted a place where they could practice their passion no matter what the weather outside (it rains quite a lot in this part of the country). So they bought a disused, drab church in a small town in what was once an industrial zone. It's not drab anymore.

Not since Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel painted it in his distinctive style, full of color and geometric shapes.

"It's pretty incredible. A curious mix of religious architecture and street art. And in the middle of it all, you have skaters doing their tricks on wooden ramps."

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Dear Adam: New Year, new life for refugees like you

Jan 6 2016

Ahmad and Alia take Adam for a walk. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

(AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

"Dear Adam,

"I first met you when you were just three months old, a baby in your father's arms as he and your beautiful mother climbed onto an old, packed train on the Balkan migrant route to Europe," writes AFP's Paris-based correspondent Serene Assir.

Having survived a bomb attack in their native Baghdad, Adam's parents, Ahmad and Alia, decided to risk it all to give their son a life in peace and security. They took their life savings and headed to the promised land of Western Europe. They crossed the Aegean Sea, a drop in the tide of humanity that last year made the often perilous journey, fleeing misery and warfare in their homelands. They trekked the Balkan migrant route, where Serene, photographer Aris Messinis and videographer Celine Jankowiak first met them. Eventually they ended up in the Netherlands, where they have applied for asylum.

"Because you've had such an incredible start to life, I decided to write you this letter to start the New Year.

"I'll ask your parents, who moved mountains to bring you to Europe, to keep it safe so you can read it when you're older."

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