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Eye witness

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On 'Survivors’ Street'

Tuesday 27 January 2015 Eye witness

Holocaust survivor Shoshana Colmer, 95, on January 21, 2015 in her apartment in a building housing Holocaust survivors in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (A Helping Hand) (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)

"I did as I would with my grandmother. Pulled my chair right up beside her, and asked in a loud, slightly dumb voice, as if speaking to a child, 'Do you like it here, then?' 'The food is good,' she replied. Silence. 'In Auschwitz I weighed 23 kilos.' Silence. Over the course of an hour Shoshana Colmer dives into her memories. Without coming up for air," writes Daphne Rousseau, after meeting the residents of a community in northern Israel known as as "Survivors' Street".

(AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)

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I am a human kaleidoscope

Monday 26 January 2015 Eye witness

A protester holds a placard reading in French 'l am Charlie, I am free, I am Lebanese' on January 10, 2015 at Samir Kassir Square in Beirut (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)

"On Saturday the 10th of January – on the eve of the historic unity march held in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks – two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a café in the Jabal Mohsen quarter of Tripoli, in north Lebanon," writes AFP's Rita Daou. "The attack left nine people dead and 37 wounded. Late that night, still hard at work, I received a phone call from a journalist friend. 'What? Still working?' she exclaimed. 'Go to bed my dear. No one will use your story. Tomorrow is the Paris march. No one gives a hoot about Jabal Mohsen'."

(AFP Photo / Ibrahim Chalhoub)

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A traveler comes home

Friday 23 January 2015 Eye witness

jacques-ivoire-2.jpg

"Writing a profile of Jacques Lhuillery is like walking down a winding road, with many forks. Starting from the man I knew and discovering, with each new friend I speak to, with each hilarious or moving anecdote, a new Jacques, another faraway land, another of his lives of which I knew nothing."

The head of AFP’s Japan bureau, who died of cancer aged 61, learned to speak Dutch while living in Saudi Arabia. He was the star of the annual Mardi Gras carnival in a small town in the south Netherlands, and he played petanque with an African head of state over drinks of ‘pastis’. Jacques was devastated by the murder in Ivory Coast of his friend and colleague Jean Helene, and was himself gravely injured in a fire at his home in Nigeria. But he never lost the rambunctious sense of humour, the actor’s talent and brazen nerve that seemed to open doors wherever he went.

(Photo: AFP /Georges Gobet)

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From back-up to front seat

Tuesday 20 January 2015 Eye witness

Sebastien Paquet (L) and Reda Khoucha beside an AFPTV van (Regis Doucet)

As elite police hunted for the Charlie Hebdo suspects, AFP’s Sebastien Paquet and Reda Khoucha spent two days on their tracks - sleeping rough, surviving on service station sandwiches, and barely speaking to their families. So far so normal, for journalists assigned to cover one of the most dramatic stories to rock France in recent years. Except neither are journalists. Both were part of a six-man team of video technicians who worked round-the-clock – and well outside their usual brief - in the aftermath of the January 7 Islamist shooting at the satirical weekly.

(Regis Doucet)

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Welcome to Jacques Lhuillery's Japan

Monday 19 January 2015 Eye witness

Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko, in Hakone near Tokyo in November 2013 (AFP / Toshifumi Kitamura)

Long-time Agence France-Presse correspondent Jacques Lhuillery, who has died aged 61, was one of the most entertaining, and prolific, contributors to the AFP blogs. After a string of tough postings that took him Iran to Nigeria via Ivory Coast and Lebanon, he found reason to marvel in everything he saw in his final AFP posting as Tokyo bureau chief. From the strange choreography of Tokyo metro workers, to the sounds and silences of the Japanese capital, or its bewildering complex recycling system. Whether sitting out an earthquake in a pseudo-Bavarian tavern, or pondering the likenesses between sumo wrestling and and corrida, here are his collected posts for the blog.

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Human pinball in Las Vegas

Thursday 15 January 2015 Eye witness

Attendees gesture in front of Intel's RealSense technology cameras to see 3D renditions of themselves, at the Consumer Electronics Show, January 8, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada (AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK)

"Ever heard of a hackathon ? It’s what you get when you lock a bunch of software whizzes in a room, deprive them of sleep for days at a stretch, and wait for visionary new ideas to emerge fully formed at the other end," writes AFP technology reporter Glenn Chapman. "It also sums up pretty neatly my own experience of covering CES -- the annual gadget and television extravaganza in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Consumer Electronics Show shares many of the basic ingredients of a hackathon - as a melting pot overflowing with gadgetry and concepts, out of which the technology world tries each year to pluck the Next Big Thing."

(AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)

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Capturing a human tide on camera

Tuesday 13 January 2015 Eye witness

Aerial view of the unity march in Paris on January 11, 2015, taken above the Place de la Republique (AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

Clinching a spot on board a helicopter, watching world leaders march under tight security, or melting into the heart of the crowd, AFP photographers Kenzo Tribouillard, Eric Baradat and Joel Saget share their experience of the historic January 11 unity march in Paris.

(AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)

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When terror unravels at home

Sunday 11 January 2015 Eye witness

French police forces taking position by the kosher grocery store Hyper Cacher in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris (AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG)

"As a journalist, I've covered some dramatic events in the past -- natural disasters in China come to mind or the conflict in Ukraine. But I never thought I'd see a bloodbath in Paris, my home city," writes AFP's Marianne Barriaux. "Why was I -- am I still -- so shaken by Friday's siege at the Porte de Vincennes in Paris?"

(AFP Photo / Eric Feferberg)

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‘Little Schoolboy’ at Charlie Hebdo

Thursday 8 January 2015 Eye witness

Charlie Hebdo staff members including cartoonists Cabu (front L), Charb (front R), Tignous (rear L) and Honore (rear R) pose at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly on March 15, 2006 (AFP PHOTO JOEL SAGET)

"Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists were not my friends. They were my first family in journalism, the one you can never fall out with," AFP's Karim Talbi, who started his career at satirical weekly, writes in tribute to his friends, murdered by Islamic extremists. "I would never be where I am today without the good old Wolinski, Cabu, Charb and Tignous."

(AFP Photo / Joel Saget)

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'Leave them the hell alone'

Tuesday 23 December 2014 Eye witness

A rose lies next to notices of missing person at a hospital in Phuket, southern Thailand, January 7, 2005 (AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL))

"It all begins with a glance at the AFP wire, over breakfast, on a cool morning in Hanoi. A tsunami has struck in the Indian Ocean. More than 100,000 are dead or missing, and the toll is surging by the hour."

On December 26, 2004, Didier Lauras, AFP's Vietnam correspondent, is sent to the tsunami-hit Thai tourist resort of Phuket. How do you cover a disaster on that scale? Should you interview broken survivors searching desperately for their loved ones? "Ten years later I know there is no right answer. I did what my gut feeling commanded. Leave them the hell alone."

(AFP Photo / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

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India through a lens

Friday 19 December 2014 Eye witness

Rajeev Goswami, a 20-year-old student, sets himself on fire during a protest in Kalkaji near Delhi on September 19, 1990. (AFP PHOTO /RAVEENDRAN)

When the 20-year-old Rajeev Goswami set himself on fire at a student protest in 1990, R. Raveendran was there to capture the desperate act. His shot triggered a surging wave of demonstrations, and indirectly brought down the Indian government. Ravee, as he is universally known, has hung up his camera after a staggering career of more than 40 years at AFP's Delhi office. "It's been a fascinating four decades," he says of his journey. "I wouldn't change it for anything."

(AFP Photo / Raveendran)

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On a tiger safari

Friday 19 December 2014 Eye witness

A picture taken by a passerby shows an alleged tiger on the loose walking in Montevrain, east of Paris, on November 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / COURTESY OF JULIE BERDEAUX)

On a quiet Thursday in November, an AFP reporter in Bobigny, north Paris suburbs, receives a phone call from a flustered police officer, who dialed his number by mistake. «Hello, Jerome? Call back the fire brigade. We can’t find IT.” "IT, as we are about to find out, is the TIGER," writes Eve Szeftel, who spent two days in pursuit of the bloodthirsty beast -- under the amused eye of the world’s media.

(AFP / Julie Berdeaux)

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Welcome to Hell, Victorian-style

Tuesday 16 December 2014 Eye witness

Sewer technician Tim Henderson shovels the fat as he works in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS)

"I squeezed through the hole in the middle of the road," writes AFP photographer Adrian Dennis after taking a grisly trip into the belly of London's sewers. "Near the bottom of the ladder, I struggled to get my boot through the 'goo' and onto the last rung before stepping off backward into waist-deep 'porridge'. My harness unhooked, the sewer technician whispered, 'Welcome to hell!'"

(AFP Photo / Adrian Dennis)

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Open House at the CIA

Monday 15 December 2014 Eye witness

The lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Headquarters in Langley, Virginia (AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB)"The fresh-faced staff members scurried back and forth among the rows of chairs. They were clearly nervous," writes AFP's Pentagon reporter Dan De Luce, after covering the first ever live news conference held inside CIA headquarters -- as the spy agency scrambled to respond to revelations its operatives tortured Al-Qaeda suspects after the September 11 attacks.

(AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

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The night Ferguson caught fire

Monday 15 December 2014 Eye witness

US-CRIME-POLICE-RACE-UNRESTAFP video journalist Loic Hofstedt was in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014, the night a grand jury decided not to press charges against the white police officer who shot dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. He was injured in the head as rioting broke out in anger at the verdict. "I was just doing my last shots, and I told myself I'm going to get the hell out of here. It happened in a second -- I knew immediately it was a brick because I could hear them flying all around me."

(AFP Photo /Jewel Samad)

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Contagious as fear

Friday 12 December 2014 Eye witness


A billboard with a message about Ebola in Freetown, on November 7, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG)

"Travelling to Sierra Leone to report on the Ebola crisis, I was expecting a country paralysed by the epidemic, full of people in rubber boots, gloves and masks – avoiding each other like the plague. And it was nothing like I had imagined," writes AFP video journalist Celine Clery, who travelled to the west African country, among the world's poorest, in November to find a capital still buzzing with life. "Everywhere we found a fighting spirit, looking for ways to move forward once the epidemic is over."

(AFP Photo / Francisco Leong)

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Brawl at the Hall

Monday 8 December 2014 Eye witness


Participants land punches during the "Brawl at the Hall

"I picked up the “Brawl at the Hall” assignment in Bethnal Green, East London, late on a Thursday night. An interesting feature about white-collar boxers – City workers who trade their suit and tie for a pair of boxing gloves in the evening," writes AFP photographer Adrian Dennis. "Nine matches on the card. The fighters, a solicitor, a banker and an IT consultant, every one of them brave and committed. Quite unlike a normal sporting venue, with strict rules on where you can sit or venture, it became evident I had complete freedom to work."

(AFP Photo / Adrian Dennis)

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Cafes and snipers, from Beirut to Aleppo

Friday 5 December 2014 Eye witness

A Syrian woman in the government-held side of Aleppo in a street protected by huge canvas which residents have stretched across it to make it hard for rebels to see them. November 18, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID)

"I had imagined Aleppo to be like Berlin at the end of World War II – smoking ruins, with haggard people stumbling through a ghostly silence," writes AFP's Sammy Ketz, who travelled to the divided Syrian city at the end of November. "Instead I found myself back in Beirut during the civil war – where life and death, buzzing cafes and snipers, exist side by side."

(AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)

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Of football and friendship in Saudi Arabia

Monday 1 December 2014 Eye witness


Saudi fans carry a portrait of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud as they cheer before the final of the 22nd Gulf Cup of Nations. (AFP PHOTO/ FAYEZ NURELDINE)

For a Western journalist new to socially-conservative Saudi Arabia, football is a precious chance to see local life up close. AFP's Ian Timberlake found himself sharing spiced coffee and jokes with police officers at the Gulf Cup final, and was left "marvelling at how a football match had again brought me face to face with Saudis." "In reality, that was the main reason I had come to this match," he writes. "For me, this wasn’t really about football."

(AFP Photo / Fayez Nureldine)

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Syria's 'hospital' of horrors

Wednesday 12 November 2014 Eye witness


An injured girl is treated at a makeshift hospital in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma, northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus, on September 24, 2014, following reported airstrikes by government forces (AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)

Douma is a Syrian rebel Bastion. A city of 200,000 just northeast of Damascus, it has been under siege for more than a year by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and has been hit practically every day by heavy artillery fire and air and ground raids.

"I head to the hospital each time an intense bombing or air raid hits Douma to document the attacks", says Abd Doumany, a freelance photographer that works for AFP. "At times when I arrive, it is as if I've entered a nightmare".

(AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)


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