Correspondent / behind the news

Behind the image

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)

(AFP Photo / Yasin Akgul)


Coming home to Kobane


"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."

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Above the fold

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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