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Eye witness

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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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Serendipity in South Kivu

Wednesday 1 April 2015 Eye witness

A passenger in the first class section take a picture from the top deck of the ferry on the Kivu lake as it leaves Bukavu for Goma on March 26, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/FEDERICO SCOPPA)

"The ferry trip from Bukavu to Goma is a real journey into Congolese society," writes photographer Federico Scoppa. "I moved to Kinshasa a month ago, and I was wrapping up my first trip outside the capital, into the restive east. I was constantly on the look-out for images. I set about exploring the boat inside out, to observe the differences between the classes, the sailors and passengers. I spent time with everyone I came across."

(Photo: AFP / Federico Scoppa)

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Stars of the bar

Monday 30 March 2015 Eye witness


"We tend to photograph lawyers on the fly, on their way in or out of court,” writes AFP photographer Joel Saget. “The pictures often come out looking pretty much the same, so AFP decided it would be a good idea - for our archives - to shoot a series of portraits of France’s star lawyers. We didn’t expect our subjects would be quite so photogenic.”

(Photo: AFP / Joel Saget)

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Coming home to Kobane

Friday 27 March 2015 Eye witness

A Kurdish Syrian woman walks with her child past the ruins of the town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL)

"I travelled to Kobane a day before Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, and stayed for a week to photograph people returning to their homes, two months after the Kurds recaptured the town from Islamic State fighters," writes the photographer Yasin Akgul. "The last time I was here, just after the Islamists were chased out, the place was strewn with burning cars and corpses. Eight percent of the town is destroyed, But two months on, there are signs of normal life beginning to resume."

(Photo: AFP / Yasin Akgul)

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Surfing on the Severn

Tuesday 24 March 2015 Eye witness

A surfer takes the wave of the tidal bore called Severn bore on the River Severn at Minsterworth in Gloucestershire, South West England on March 21, 2015. The Severn bore is an annual 'supertide' phenomenon on the River Severn. (AFP PHOTO / GEOFF CADDICK)

"The surfers were there, limbering up on the shingle bank, well before the wave came in," writes photographer Geoff Caddick. "The River Severn on the border between England and Wales is world-famous for its bore – a rare phenomenon where the incoming tide forms a wave that rides against the current up a river or bay. I was sent to cover what was billed as a 'five-star' bore, with the Moon exerting an extra gravitational pull due to its alignment with the Sun and Earth after Friday’s eclipse."

(Photo: AFP / Geoff Caddick)

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Dusk in the Arctic morning

Friday 20 March 2015 Eye witness

People watch a total solar eclipse from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway on March 20, 2015.  (AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA)

"I’ve been interested in astronomy ever since I was a kid. Late last year I left my job as an AFP news photographer to pursue a documentary project – as well as the night sky and astronomy photography that I love," writes Stan Honda. "I’ve always wanted to see a total solar eclipse." So when a friend told him of a trip to Norway's Arctic Svalbard archipelago, one of only two places with the Faroe Islands which would be experiencing “totality” on March 20, 2015, he signed up.

(Photo: AFP / Stan Honda)

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A roach with your ceviche?

Wednesday 18 March 2015 Eye witness

A woman prepares Chicharron (fried pork) sandwiches at Mistura Fair 2009, an international gastronomic fair in Lima, on September 27, 2009. (AFP PHOTO/RAUL GARCIA PEREIRA)

"Within every Peruvian lurks an inner chef, an inner food critic," writes AFP's Lima correspondent Moises Avila, who returned home after 10 years abroad to witness a food revolution in the city recently dubbed a gastronomic mecca. "The specialities that delight today’s tourists were born on simple stoves, rustled up by our ancestors who concocted dishes with whatever they could lay their hands on."

"But every Peruvian also has his 'Tia Veneno' – his 'Aunty Poison' – the street vendors who throw together the dishes that everyone eats, in the hygiene conditions everyone can well imagine, without anyone dying of food poisoning. And some things remain the same as ever. Like the possibility of stumbling across a crunchy, six-legged surprise in a dish bought on the sidewalk."

(Photo: AFP / Raul Garcia Pereira)

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Under Gaza with Islamic Jihad

Tuesday 17 March 2015 Eye witness

A Palestinian militant from the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, squats in a tunnel under the Gaza Strip on March 3, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

"We have visited Gaza tunnels dozens of times before – but only ever the ones linking the enclave to neighbouring Egypt and used to pass goods across the border," write AFP's Mahmoud Hams and Yahya Hassouna. "Today, we are going to get a glimpse of a world under Gaza and the fighters who dwell there. Those same fighters who vanished from view during last summer’s war. Islamic Jihad has agreed to take us down into the heart of its best-kept secret."

(Photo: AFP / Mahmud Hams)

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Sci-Fi in Bangkok

Monday 16 March 2015 Eye witness

The Macha Bucha festival at the Dhammakaya Temple in Bangkok on March 4, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS ASFOURI)

"The Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Thailand is one of a kind, with its flying-saucer shaped stupa made from thousands of golden Buddha statues," writes AFP photographer Nicolas Asfouri. The Buddhist cult that manages the complex, the Dhammakaya Movement, is highly controversial. It has just been forced to reimburse a donation of around 20 million euros (600 million baht) after an uproar over the dubious origin of the funds. But the festival processions at the temple, which can draw 100,000 devotees, are simply spectacular.

(Photo: AFP / Nicolas Asfouri)

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The day everything bright turned black

Monday 16 March 2015 Eye witness

A Yazidi Iraqi woman in the Bajid Kandala camp in Kurdistan's western Dohuk province on August 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

Threatened with rape, sexual slavery or forced marriage as the Islamic State group overran their homes last year, they fled at a moment's notice, leaving their lives behind. In early March, a dozen Yazidi and Christian women refugees in Arbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, took part in a workshop organised by the charity Chime for Change and hosted by journalists Mariane Pearl and Randa Habib. The goal was to teach them how to use narrative techniques to help share their terrible stories.

"I put my journalistic habits to one side, instead following my gut-feeling and intuition," writes Randa Habib. "This isn’t about extracting from these women good stories to print. It’s about making them feel comfortable, creating a bond that will enable them to tell me painful, private things. Simply because it will do them good."

"Their stories, when they share them at last, will stay with me for a long time."

(Photo: AFP / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

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Bjork’s ‘Army of Me’: music, and fame, on a wall

Friday 13 March 2015 Eye witness

An exhibit in the Bjork exhibition at MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art ), a retrospective dedicated to the multifaceted work of the singer, composer, and musician (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

"So how exactly do you put music on a wall? And is it even worth doing?" asks AFP music correspondent Shaun Tandon. "I headed to the preview of the Bjork retrospective at MoMA in New York with the hope this would be mind-blowing. And the end product is wondrously innovative. Yet I came out with a sense that this was also an experiment in the reaches of pop culture hagiography."

(Photo: AFP / Timothy A. Clary)

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Lost in a metal shell

Thursday 12 March 2015 Eye witness

A French Navy HawkEye prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle operating in the Gulf on February 26, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ)

"How do I feel about spending a week on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf? To be honest, as the prospect takes shape, I can feel myself tensing up," writes AFP's Valerie Leroux. "A week in a metal shell, nine storeys high, trekking up and down mile-long gangways and teetering ladders, to the non-stop soundtrack of Rafale fighters roaring into the air on the deck above? But to hell with claustrophobia, never mind deafening decibels, I decide to go all in and board a plane for Bahrain. I won’t regret it."

(Photo: AFP / Patrick Baz)

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Tea in the desert with the Saudi king

Wednesday 11 March 2015 Eye witness

Inside the palace at Diriyah farms (AFP / Jo Biddle)

"Despite the glamorous sounding nature of flying around the world with top US diplomat John Kerry, life on the road often consists of hanging around anonymous hotel rooms or conference centres hoping for a snippet of information about closed-door negotiations," writes AFP State Department correspondent Jo Biddle. "So when the Saudis gave only limited access for the media travelling with Kerry to visit new King Salman in the ancient city of Diriyah, I jumped at the chance."

(Photo: AFP / Jo Biddle)

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A drone over Paris

Monday 9 March 2015 Eye witness

AFP biker Guy Andrieu throws an unpowered drone into the air, for the purposes of shooting an illustration picture, in la Defense business disctrict on February 27, 2015 (AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET)

"Mysterious drones in the skies over Paris and several nuclear power plants have been giving the French authorities a headache in recent weeks," writes the AFP photographer Dominique Faget. "There’s naturally a lot of media interest in the phenomenon - and an appetite for illustration photos to match. But it would take a major stroke of luck for AFP to capture a real-life drone in the sky over the capital."

So how do you send a drone into the sky over Paris, without getting thrown in jail?

(Photo: AFP / Dominique Faget)

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