Correspondent / behind the news

Dreams crushed by a beast

Tuesday 28 July 2015

A migrant runs to catch a train in the Chacamax community, Chiapas State, Mexico, on June 21, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/ALFREDO ESTRELLA)

(AFP Photo / Alfredo Estrella)

"It is 35 degrees out, and the humidity is close to 100 percent. We are tracking a freight train known as “La Bestia” (The Beast), as it rumbles from the southern border of Mexico towards the United States," writes Daphné Lemelin. "This train is part of the history of migration. Hundreds of thousands have ridden it in pursuit of their American dream. Many have been attacked, robbed, mutilated or even killed in the process."

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A rail ticket to Europe

Wednesday 22 July 2015

The baby of Syrian migrants sleeps in the waiting room of the train station of the southern Serbian town of Presevo, near the border with Macedonia on July 16, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF)

(AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff)

"Early this month my work took me from Sofia to the far east of Bosnia for the anniversary of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre," writes the photographer Dimitar Dilkoff. "Before heading home I took the chance to stop in Serbia and see for myself the migration of hundreds of people heading north towards the European Union."

"Most of these migrants come from Muslim countries and many in the Balkans say they are terrorists. That, in any event, is the fantasy, what people imagine from afar. Because when you see these people it is plain – to me anyway – that they are just ordinary families making a long and difficult journey."

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The long wait in Vienna

Wednesday 15 July 2015

A worker brings compact air conditioners to the Palais Coburg Hotel, where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held, in Vienna, Austria on July 7, 2015 ( AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR)

(AFP Photo / Joe Klamar)

"''You're still here?' It’s a sign you’ve been away a long time, when even the hotel receptionist is surprised to see you at breakfast," writes Helen Percival as she wraps up her coverage of the marathon Iran nuclear talks in Vienna. "That was nearly two weeks after I arrived, and several days before the talks concluded with a deal more than a decade in the making. But of course we didn’t know that at the time."

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Whipped by the sharia police

Monday 13 July 2015

An Acehnese woman convicted for 'immoral acts' reacts after being lashed by a hooded local government officer during a public caning at a square in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, on June 12, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / Chaideer MAHYUDDIN)

(AFP Photo / Chaideer Mayhuddin)

"It's not clear if the caning itself was responsible for the young woman collapsing, or the trauma of being punished so publicly before an enormous crowd," writes Nurdin Hasan, an AFP correspondent in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia allowed to implement Islamic sharia law, where public canings for "immoral acts" have been on the rise.

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Nightmares and miracles in Srebrenica

Saturday 11 July 2015

An elderly Muslim couple are treated for injuries inflicted by Serb forces as they fled the east Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. The man on the right died shortly afterwards. (AFP PHOTO/Odd ANDERSEN)

"It’s the summer of 1995. I am on a reporting assignment in Croatia when I get a call from AFP’s chief editors. Can I go to Bosnia? Srebrenica has just fallen to Serb forces," writes Nadège Puljak, who covered the influx of refugees in the nearby town of Tuzla, alongside the AFP photographer Odd Andersen. "Of course, I answer yes."

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Returning to Gaza

Thursday 9 July 2015

A combination of pictures shows (top) destroyed buildings in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip on July 26, 2014, and the same place (bottom) on July 3, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

(AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed)

"The 50-day war between Israel and Hamas had just begun when I entered Gaza on July 10, 2014," writes the AFP video journalist Andrea Bernardi. "A year later I find myself back at the iron gates leading to the Erez border crossing. Everything is the same. And everything is different."

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Patience an acquired virtue at Iran talks

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Journalists gather outside the Palais Coburg Hotel where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held in Vienna, Austria on July 2, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR)

(AFP Photo / Joe Klamar)

"In the frenetic, 24-hour news cycle world of instant messaging, Tweets, Snapchats and texts, patience has almost become an outmoded, lost virtue," writes AFP's Jo Biddle. "But for 12 days now, more than 500 accredited journalists gathered in Vienna for the last stages of the talks to curb Iran's nuclear programme have become experts in killing time."

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The crying man

Tuesday 7 July 2015

A July 3, 2015 photograph shows Greek pensioner Giorgos Chatzifotiadis crying outside a national bank branch in Thessaloniki (AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDIS)

(AFP Photo / Sakis Mitrolidis)

"Suddenly a man emerged from the bank yelling and gesturing, holding in his hand a savings book and his ID card," writes the AFP photographer Sakis Mitrolidis, who took the viral picture of a Greek pensioner weeping on the street. "Immediately I picked up my camera and started shooting. The poor man. After seconds he collapsed to the ground."

"Some people have suggested it is THE defining picture of the Greek crisis. I don’t see it that way. I think it tells part of the story."

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Sleepless nights, smoke and mirrors

Monday 6 July 2015

A motorcylist with his passenger holding a Greek flag passes in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens on July 5, 2015 ( AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS)

(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

"There are times in journalism when you are so busy, or so tired, that you barely notice a little bit of history passing in front of your eyes," writes AFP's Danny Kemp from Brussels.

"After five years of the Greek debt crisis, five years of talks, five years of stalling, the leaders of the eurozone had finally thrown Athens to the lions. They finally, really did it."

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Clamouring for cash on the streets of Athens

Thursday 2 July 2015

Pensioners try to enter a national Bank branch, as Greece reopened banks for pensioners who do not use cash cards for ATM, to allow them to withdraw their pension with a limit of 120 euros, in Athens on July 1, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / ANGELOS TZORTZINIS)

(AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)

"We knew there would be ugly scenes, as Greece said it was opening its beleaguered banks for three days to allow elderly people to draw cash," writes the photographer Aris Messinis. "People shoving, yelling in anger at hapless bank employees. In six long years of crisis, we have seen images like this any number of times. It’s sad. But it’s the reality and your job is to record it."

"Images like these are very powerful, and make you think they are the whole story. In truth they are only part of it. But cool-headed behavior is hard to express with an image."

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Embedded in Mali

Tuesday 30 June 2015

A French armoured vehicle leaves Goundam on June 3, 2015 in the Timbuktu region, northern Mali, during a joint operation with Malian army forces as part of the anti-terrorist Operation Barkhane (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES)

(AFP Photo / Philippe Desmazes)

"The thermometer in the foyer is stuck on 50 degrees Celsius. The highest it can go," writes AFP's Michel Moutot. "It’s not yet noon on the French army base at Timbuktu airport."

"Why did AFP ask to follow a French army unit into Mali's lawless north? Two reasons. Firstly, to report on the soldiers actions on the ground. Secondly to gain access, under the protection of the army, to one of a rising number of places in the world where reporters can no longer venture alone without risk of kidnapping or death."

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In Karachi heat, the stench of death

Friday 26 June 2015

A Pakistani resident helps a heatstroke victim at a market area during a heatwave in Karachi on June 23, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM)

Passers-by help a heatstroke victim in a market area of Karachi on June 23, 2015 (AFP Photo / Rizwan Tabassum)

As Pakistan's sprawling metropolis Karachi finally cools off after a deadly heatwave that killed more than 1,000 people, AFP's correspondent in the city Ashraf Khan reflects on covering - and living through - one of the hottest weeks in living memory.

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European hostages: mining the data

Friday 26 June 2015

Members of French army special force take part in a mock hostage release exercise, on April 15, 2015 on a beach in Arcachon, southwestern France, as part of the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS). (AFP PHOTO / MEHDI FEDOUACH)

(AFP Photo / Mehdi Fedouach)

"How many times have I heard this refrain since joining AFP nearly 20 years ago: ‘With millions of stories in our archives, we’re sitting on top of an information gold mine’," writes the journalist Marlowe Hood. "The European Hostage Project is a serious attempt to extract some of that buried treasure. A case study in data journalism, it uncovered patterns in the terrible traffic in hostages from Europe that up to now remained elusive if not invisible."

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Street photography in a city of masks

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Two women wearing face masks take a 'selfie' as they walk in the grounds of Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul on June 18, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones)

(AFP Photo / Ed Jones)

"The culprit of this story is hardly an ideal subject for photographers," writes AFP photographer Ed Jones. "Invisible to the naked eye, microscopic images of the coronavirus responsible for an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea are fascinating enough, but they do little to illustrate the fear the virus has spread among the population of 50 million. It’s a dramatic threat but my attempts to photograph it have been quite the opposite - largely involving prowling the streets, where most of us photographers like to spend our time anyway."

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Slashed by a sea monster

Thursday 18 June 2015

A racing officials' boat is hit by part of the Spindrift 2 Multihull (L) on June 16, 2015, just before the start of the 9th Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, off the coast of Lorient, western France (AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN  EVRARD)

(AFP Photo / Jean-Sebastien Evrard)

"The Spindrift 2 is the world’s largest racing trimaran. An extraordinary sailboat. Forty metres long, it holds a round-the-world record and frequently hits speeds of more than 45 knots – or 85 kilometres per hour," writes the AFP photographer Jean-Sebastien Evrard. "At full speed, its rudders and daggerboards are sharp as razor blades. Not something you wish to see hurtling towards you out at sea. Yet that is what I witnessed, on June 16 in the afternoon, off the coast from Lorient in Brittany."

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Backstories: the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

Wednesday 17 June 2015

An Arab man weeps in front of a portrait of late Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin on November 6, 1995 in Jerusalem, shortly before the funeral of the Israeli leader. (AFP PHOTO / MANOOCHER DEGHATI)

(AFP Photo / Manoocher Deghati)

In Backstories, a new video series by Laurent Kalfala and Sylvain Estibal, AFP journalists take us behind the scenes of a powerful moment in their career.

For the second instalment, Patrick Anidjar recalls how while based in Jerusalem, he was among the first journalists to learn of the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist on November 4, 1995.

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Fleeing through the eye of a needle

Monday 15 June 2015

Syrians fleeing the war rush through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory, near the Turkish border crossing at Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on June 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

"We have been on the Turkey-Syria border for a week now, within sight of Tal Abyad where Kurdish forces are battling Islamic State jihadists for control," writes AFP's Bulent Kilic. "On Sunday, June 14, thousands of people fleeing the fighting suddenly appeared from behind the hill and swarmed down towards the border fence. Everything happened in five minutes. It was like a Hollywood film."

"I have been photographing this refugee crisis for nearly four years now, but yesterday was different. Almost every woman had children with her. I have never seen anything like it."

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Flight 847, into the hell of Beirut

Friday 12 June 2015

One of two heavily-armed Lebanese Shiite militants, his face hidden with a bag, who hijacked a TWA passenger Boeing 727 aircraft, looks out from the door of the jetliner on June 20, 1985 at Beirut airport (AFP PHOTO/JOEL ROBINE)

(AFP Photo / Joel Robine)

"On Friday June 14, 1985, Flight 847 of the US carrier TWA was travelling between Athens and Rome with eight crew and 145 passengers on board when it was diverted towards Beirut airport, opening one of the longest hijacking crises in aviation history," writes AFP's Patrick Rahir.

"Three days earlier I had watched three hijackers blow up a Boeing at Beirut airport. A day later a young Palestinian threatened to set off a hand grenade on a flight from Beirut to Cyprus. At first I thought it was a joke. Another hijacking, this time of an American plane?"

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Cycling to a better life

Thursday 11 June 2015

A group of migrants push their bicycles on a highway near the town of Veles on their way to Macedonia's border with Serbia on June 9, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKI)

(AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

"We have our fair share of problems here in Macedonia. The country is in deep political crisis," writes the photographer Robert Atanasovski. "Alongside this another crisis, a humanitarian one, is playing out day by day on the main road running north to south through the country, along the Vardar valley."

"For thousands of destitute people, the road is a passageway towards what they hope will be a better life in one of the countries of the European Union."

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Slow travel to Saint Helena

Tuesday 9 June 2015

A statue of Napoleon is seen at the Consulate hotel in Jamestown on the British island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean on March 10, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / JEAN LIOU)

(AFP Photo / Jean Liou)

"When Saint Helena appears on the horizon at dawn, after five days at sea, I can’t help but feel privileged. For years I have dreamed of travelling to this remotest of islands, all but cut off from the world out in the South Atlantic," writes AFP's Jean Liou. "A few months from now, an airport will be opening on the British islet. But until then it remains one of the last places on Earth accessible only by boat. And the crossing from Cape Town, a case study in slow travel for our hyper-connected world, only adds to the sense of anticipation."

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