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Eye witness

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Patience and resilience in quake-hit Nepal

Wednesday 20 May 2015 Eye witness

Nepalese civilians and police personnel clear rubble at the Narayan temple in Kathmandu on May 2, 2015, one week after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the Himalayan nation on April 25 (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)

"Two words tweeted by a Nepali journalist friend moments after the second quake last Tuesday summed up the mood in Kathmandu: 'Enough already'," writes AFP's Claire Cozens. "Few people slept that night. Like the buildings imperceptibly weakened by the first quake that crumbled in the second, the city's stoicism appeared to falter. And yet just a day later, residents were out helping the army clear rubble from the streets. No one expected the government to help, so they were helping themselves – and each other."

(Photo: AFP / Menahem Kahana)

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Bolanita: Indonesia's women footballers

Monday 18 May 2015 Eye witness

This photo taken in Jakarta on March 26, 2015 shows Vica Anyistiawati (L) dribbling the ball past Yulita Cyndi Anggraini of CSC (Cibubur Soccer Club) during a football training session in Jakarta. (AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY)

"The girls emerged one by one from the changing room, in red jerseys with numbers on their backs. But instead of jogging out to the football field, they ducked into a small mosque for afternoon prayers," writes the photographer Adek Berry. "When AFP asked me to shoot a reportage on female football in Indonesia, I jumped at the chance. But women footballers are no common sight in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation."

(AFP Photo / Adek Berry)

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'If you find my dead body…'

Wednesday 13 May 2015 Eye witness

French far-right Front National (FN) founder Jean-Marie Le Pen sings at the foot of a statue of Joan of Arc at the party's annual May 1 rally in Paris in 2015. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON)

"Jean-Marie Le Pen is a complex character, both an erudite with a rich knowledge of history and a relentless provocateur. It takes time to figure him out," writes Guillaume Daudin, who covers the National Front for AFP. "Le Pen may be physically diminished. But he is far from the senile old man some would paint him as. He knows exactly what he is doing."

(Photo: AFP / Thomas Samson)

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Death in their eyes

Tuesday 12 May 2015 Eye witness

A gang member gestures from a bus as he is transferred to a high-security prison on April 24, 2015 in Izalco, El Salvador (AFP PHOTO / Marvin RECINOS)

"When your phone rings and drags you from sleep at five in the morning, there are only two possible explanations: someone dialled your number by mistake, or there is an emergency," writes the AFP photographer Marvin Recinos. "This Friday it was no mistake. On the end of the line was one of my sources, warning me that hundreds of highly-dangerous gang members, or 'pandilleros', were about to be moved from prisons in the east of El Salvador, to the top-security facility of Izalco to the west of the capital."

(AFP Photo / Marvin Recinos)

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Invited to a porn shoot: ‘I'll wait outside’

Monday 11 May 2015 Eye witness

Japanese porn actor Ken Shimizu, known as Shimiken, posing after an interview with AFP in Tokyo on March 18, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO)

"When Japanese porn king 'Shimiken' tweeted that there were more Bengali tigers than male porn actors in Japan, AFP Tokyo felt obliged, nay duty-bound, to launch a forensic investigation into this cause célèbre," writes Alastair Himmer. "But this would be no ordinary assignment. Not by a long chalk."

(Photo: AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno)

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Writing on the wall in Bujumbura

Thursday 7 May 2015 Eye witness

A Burundian protester wearing a gas mask and holding a sign that reads "Stop the third mandate

"Today was a tense morning. I found myself in the middle of clashes between protesters and police in Burundi where some people were injured by grenades and a protester was shot in the head right in front of me. Ugly scenes," writes the photojournalist Phil Moore. "The writing had been on the wall that these elections in Burundi could be contentious, with such strong opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza seeking a third term."

(AFP Photo / Phil Moore)

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The most German of stories

Wednesday 6 May 2015 Eye witness

Visitors walk at the memorial site of former Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, southwestern Germany, during a ceremony to mark 70 years since it was liberated by US forces on May 3, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE)

"She lays a hand on his forearm to offer support. She helps him rise from his wheelchair, and take a few faltering steps towards the pulpit where he is to deliver a short speech," writes AFP journalist Yannick Pasquet. "She is the one who leans, in her navy blue raincoat, to help the elderly man whose great age – 95 – is eating away at his strength. Angela Merkel. All of German identity is here, in this moment. A chancellor, survivors and a death camp."

(Photo: AFP / Christof Sache)

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Rallying a ‘Tartan army’ in Scotland

Wednesday 6 May 2015 Eye witness

A demonstrator waves Scotland's national Saltire flags at a rally in Glasgow, Scotland on April 25, 2015, urging Scots to put their UK general election vote towards a party that supports independence (AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN)

"'Who is that Scottish woman who appeared in the TV debates?,' a young Englishman, distrustful of politics and reluctant to vote, asked AFP's Alice Ritchie as the general election campaign wound up. "Did he mean Nicola Sturgeon? 'Yes, I might vote for her.' I told him the Scottish National Party wasn't fielding candidates in England. He looked disappointed."

"The energy of the election campaign in Scotland - with candidates of all camps fielding questions from real people on the street - has been a sharp contrast to the stage-managed affair south of the border. It has left many English people a little envious, even if the SNP's nationalist rhetoric and continued commitment to breaking up the United Kingdom has generated hostility."

(Photo: AFP / Andy Buchanan)

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Welcome to the SimCity bureau

Monday 4 May 2015 Eye witness


"It was done on a whim. In the dying minutes of a slow night shift in Paris, I noticed that AFP was setting up a bureau in Qatar," writes AFP's David Harding. "For a news reporter who is also a football anorak (you may have heard the country is hosting a World Cup), it seemed a perfect fit. Twenty-four hours of procrastination, one e-mail of application, several months and a pair of newborn twins later, here I am in Doha, looking down at traffic jams and up at the sun from the 15th floor of a gleaming glass-covered skyscraper."

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When the big boat comes too late

Thursday 30 April 2015 Eye witness

Rescued migrants disembark from the Italian Navy vessel Bettica after arriving in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta on April 22, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI)

"Migrant landings in the ports of southern Italy follow a well-worn pattern," writes AFP's Fanny Carrier, who was in Sicily this month to report on the deadliest week in the Mediterranean migrant crisis. "Out on the ship’s deck, the men, women and children sit surrounded by rescuers and humanitarian workers in white protective suits, gloves and masks. Their stories are all similar, all harrowing. They tell of a fraught, ruinously expensive journey across Africa, the perilous crossing of the Sahara, their arrival in Libya. They tell of the violence of militias and people-smugglers. They tell of their fear on board the boat, of water seeping in, of the rescuers who barely reached them in time. And finally, of reaching a safe shore."

(Photo: AFP / Alberto Pizzoli)

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Dignity and duty in ruined Kathmandu

Wednesday 29 April 2015 Eye witness

Nepalese patient Sanu Ranjitkar breathes oxygen from a cylinder under a makeshift shelter in Kathmandu on April 27, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH)

"This is the second time I have covered a major natural disaster," writes AFP video reporter Agnes Bun, sent to cover the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal. "The first was in Tacloban, in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan struck in November 2013. What strikes me in Nepal is how deeply reserved its people are. They don’t force a smile, but when tragedy strikes they take their faces in their hands, stare at the ground, try any way they can to hide their grief."

"Filming these people’s pain is a challenge. When someone is crying out, weeping, you get the sense they are calling for help. I feel less awkward training a camera on them – than on someone who is doing all they can to stay dignified and keep their feelings private."

(Photo: AFP / Prakash Singh)

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I'm going to be buried alive

Tuesday 28 April 2015 Eye witness

In this photograph taken on April 25, 2015, a cloud of snow and debris triggered by an earthquake flies towards Everest Base Camp, moments ahead of flattening part of the camp in the Himalayas (AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT)

Roberto Schmidt, AFP’s South Asia photo chief, and Kathmandu bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly had just reached Everest base camp on assignment on April 25 when an avalanche - triggered by the earthquake that has killed more than 5,000 in Nepal - thundered down the mountain leaving at least 18 people dead. This is the story of their near-fatal experience.

(Photo: AFP / Roberto Schmidt)

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Catching Calbuco

Saturday 25 April 2015 Eye witness

The Calbuco volcano, in southern Chile, erupts on April 23, 2015 (AFP / Martin Bernetti)

"I had never managed to capture a force of nature as stunning as a volcanic eruption", writes AFP photographer Martin Bernetti. "Chile has some 90 active volcanoes that roar to life from time to time with the kind of raw natural power that every photographer dreams of catching. But the country is extremely long and narrow, and domestic flights are usually cancelled whenever volcanic activity picks up. That means getting to an eruption usually takes hours of driving. And when you get there, the volcano will most likely have calmed down..."

(Photo: AFP / Martin Bernetti)

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Backstories: the photographer and the map

Monday 20 April 2015 Eye witness

US marines officers from the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines are briefed about their initial mission in the event of a strike against Iraq, 13 March 2003 in Camp Shoup in northern of Kuwait. (AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG)

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 first installment, Eric Feferberg tells the extraordinary tale of this picture, taken on March 13, 2003 in a US military camp in Kuwait where 130,000 troops were preparing to invade Iraq. Invited to photograph this officers' briefing - and the top-secret map in the background - he had little idea of the storm that would ensue.

(AFP Photo / Eric Feferberg)

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A flash of xenophobic rage

Friday 17 April 2015 Eye witness

A taxi driver holds bricks in his hands on April 15, 2015 during a confrontation with foreign nationals in the Johannesburg Central Business District. (AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI)

A South African taxi driver hurls paving stones at the head of a foreigner, during xenophobic clashes in Johannesburg on April 15, 2015. AFP photographer Marco Longari explains how he came to witness this brief but spectacular explosion of hatred, in a country where outbreaks of xenophobic violence are a recurring problem.

(Photo: AFP / Marco Longari)

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Across the water from Yemen

Thursday 16 April 2015 Eye witness

A Yemeni woman sits on April 13, 2015 in her designated quarters at a UNHCR boarding facility at Obock, a small port town in Djibouti located on the northern shore of of the Gulf of Tadjoura (AFP PHOTO/TONY KARUMBA)

In the fishing port of Obock, in Djibouti, hundreds of people fleeing the Saudi-led air war on Yemen have been landing in skiffs at all hours of the day and night.

"I photograph the sweet smiles of the young, the questioning looks of teenagers and the deep, reserved glances of their elders. I try to work as sensitively as I can, to capture the emotions on their faces," writes AFP photographer Tony Karumba. "But as always when I am documenting someone else's pain, reporting on the nightmare their lives have become, at the back of mind there is a bleak awareness my work can make little difference to their plight."

(Photo: AFP / Tony Karumba)

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Boko Haram, through the eyes of children

Monday 13 April 2015 Eye witness

Young Nigerian refugees draw on April 6, 2015 during a therapy program managed by UNICEF in the refugee camp near Baga Sola. (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES)

"We are on the shores of Lake Chad in the Dar-es-Salam refugee camp, a dusty, crowded site sheltering some 5,000 people who fled over the border from northern Nigeria to escape the Boko Haram insurgency," writes AFP photographer Philippe Desmazes. "Among them are a great many children. Under a large white tent UNICEF has been holding art therapy workshops for young refugees. It’s a common technique used to help children in war zones overcome their trauma - and also a way to fill the endless days in the camp."

(Photo: AFP Photo / Philippe Desmazes)

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Seeking the soul of Istanbul on the Bosphorus

Friday 10 April 2015 Eye witness

A ferry leaves the Kadikoy landing as a captain walks on the roof on May 3, 2014, in Istanbul. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)

"It’s commonplace among Istanbul residents to complain about the pace of change in the city," writes AFP journalist Stuart Williams. "Too much unchecked construction, too much traffic, too many new infrastructure projects, people say. Yet everyone still knows a place that for them is the soul of the city. For me, the easiest way to feel the soul of Istanbul is on the water. On one of the commuter ferries that ply their way on the Bosphorus."

(Photo: AFP / Bulent Kilic)

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With the nomads of New Delhi

Thursday 9 April 2015 Eye witness

Indian nomadic shepherd Dheeya poses as the camp she shares with her family on the outskirts of Faridabad some 30 kms from New Delhi on March 22, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/MONEY SHARMA)

"In a year since moving to Faridabad, a fast-growing satellite of New Delhi, I have spotted from time to time nomadic tribes with their herds in the middle of the road. I would always wonder where they came from, and where they were headed," writes the AFP photographer Money Sharma. "One day last month, I saw a group of them as I was driving home. This time, I was not going to let them get away."

(Photo: AFP / Money Sharma)

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Waiting game on a Swiss lake

Thursday 2 April 2015 Eye witness

US Secretary of State John Kerry looks out of the window of his room at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel during a break in Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 1, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

"For the past week I have been with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland in the marathon search for a nuclear deal with Iran," writes AFP photographer Brendan Smialowski. "Covering negotiations like these is as much about official photo ops as behind-the-scenes moments and features. As the negotiations dragged on, the ops got fewer and fewer, then dried up completely. But a photojournalist can go hunting for other moments to illustrate the story."

(Photo: AFP / Fabrice Coffrini)

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