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Feb 1 2016

What if this baby were mine?

A man stands next to the body of a migrant child washed up on a beach in Canakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016 (AFP / Ozan Kose)
A man stands next to the body of a migrant child washed up on a beach in Canakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016 (AFP / Ozan Kose)

(AFP / Ozan Kose)


"The baby is the first dead body I see when I get to the beach. He looks like he is nine or ten months old. He is dressed warmly and was wearing a hat. An orange pacifier is attached to his clothes," writes AFP's Istanbul-based photographer Ozan Kose, who took pictures of a Turkish beach the morning after a boat overloaded with refugees seeking a better life in Europe sank off shore.

"For the moment, noone is taking care of the dead baby. I return to him and stay there, for about an hour, silent. I have a baby boy who is five months and a daughter who is eight years old. I ask myself what I would do if this were my baby."


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Dec 30 2015

The 15 most-read stories in 2015

© AFP - 2015
© AFP - 2015

(AFP)


These were the 15 most-read stories in 2015 on our AFP Correspondent blog. We wish all our readers a happy New Year.


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Working in the shadows, putting a spotlight on the world

Kos. August, 2015. (AFP/Angelos Tzortzinis)

Kos. August, 2015. (AFP/Angelos Tzortzinis)

(AFP/Angelos Tzortzinis)



This year’s winner of Time Magazine’s Best Wire Photographer award is Angelos Tzortzinis, a 31-year-old freelancer who has been contributing pictures to AFP as a stringer since 2007. The magazine chose Tzortzinis “for his heartfelt work” in documenting his country’s response to the unprecedented financial and migrant crises.

Reserved by nature, Tzortzinis picked up photography on a lark, but quickly became enthralled with it and has stuck with it in part because it offered a means of communicating with others. He is a bit uneasy with the spotlight since winning the award. 

“I prefer to remain in the shadows as I work,” he writes. “The prize has given me a boost of hope and energy to continue my work.

“It’s also great motivation for freelancers, who have to struggle every day… The fact that a freelancer won such a prestigious prize in Greece will give other stringers hope and encouragement to continue.”


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Nov 6 2015

War in peace

Children huddle under emergency blankets after arriving in Lesbos in October. (AFP/Aris Messinis)

Children huddle under emergency blankets after arriving in Lesbos in October. (AFP/Aris Messinis)

(AFP/Aris Messinis)



AFP's chief photographer in Greece Aris Messinis knows what a war looks like. He's covered conflicts in Syria and Libya. He has seen death and suffering. But covering the migrants arriving in their hundreds on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos has affected him more.

"You constantly realize that you're not in a warzone. That you're working in a place where there is peace...  the human pain is the same as in a war, but just knowing that you are not in a warzone makes it much more emotional. And much more painful."

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Sep 4 2015

A starting point for refugees' dreams... and nightmares

A woman carries her baby as she boards a dinghy to reach the Greek Island of Kos from Turkish side Bodrum early on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)
A woman carries her baby as she boards a dinghy to reach the Greek Island of Kos from Turkish side Bodrum early on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


"Usually in summer, Bodrum is known as a glitzy destination for Turkish celebrities and moneyed Istanbulites, its upmarket nightclubs and golden sands earning it the moniker of the Turkish Saint Tropez", writes AFP reporter Fulya Özerkan. "But this year, with the summer holiday season in full swing, the Bodrum peninsular has become a launch point for refugees making the open boat journey from Turkey to the EU and the Greek island of Kos, tantalisingly visible to the south".

"Some will make it to Greece to have a chance of forging a new life in the European Union. But, for others, the shiny resort will turn into a trap they cannot leave".

"And several won't make it out alive".


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A journey to the unknown on the Balkan migrant route (1)

Syrian refugees and migrants along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary near Horgos on September 1, 2015 (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)
Syrian refugees and migrants along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary near Horgos on September 1, 2015 (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)


"Since the beginning of 2015, more than 350,000 people fleeing war and misery have reached Europe in risky, sometimes deadly journeys on inflatable boats", writes AFP reporter Serene Assir. "They set sail from Turkey's shores for Greece and from chaos-ridden Libya for Italy. Most are Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, desperate to restart their lives in safety".

"But they face a journey plagued with obstacles, smugglers and hustlers, long waits in the sun and short nights in the cold before they get there. They also face many fears and exorbitant costs, which they cover with money borrowed from family or from having sold their homes."

"After covering the refugees' ordeal on the Greek islands, AFP has sent a team of three journalists on the Balkan migrant route to follow the continuation of their journey to an all too uncertain future."

"This is a diary with notes from the trip from Greece through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. Our plan is to reach Germany with the migrants."


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Aug 28 2015

‘ The lucky ones ’

Migrants check their mobile phones on a beach after reaching the Greek island of Kos on August 12, 2015 (AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)
Migrants check their mobile phones on a beach after reaching the Greek island of Kos on August 12, 2015 (AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)

(AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)


"It’s 4:00 am, stars fill the velvet night sky and the Aegean Sea is perfectly still", writes AFP reporter Serene Assir. "A few journalists gather at the beach in Greece’s resort island Kos, waiting in silence on an unlikely frontline of Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II. Today, like every other day, scores of refugees and migrants fleeing war and misery will reach the shore on inflatable boats, dreaming of a better life in Europe."

“Greece? Turkey? Where am I?” pants a man in his forties as he clambers out of the dinghy, tearing off his bright orange life vest. “You’re in Greece,” I reply. Overcome with emotion, he kneels down on the sand to pray, grateful that he has made it to Europe alive."


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Jul 7 2015

The crying man

A July 3, 2015 photograph shows Greek pensioner Giorgos Chatzifotiadis crying outside a national bank branch in Thessaloniki (AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDIS) 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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Jul 6 2015

Sleepless nights, smoke and mirrors

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) 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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Jul 2 2015

Clamouring for cash on the streets of Athens

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) 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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Jun 12 2015

Flight 847, into the hell of Beirut

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) 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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Jun 11 2015

Cycling to a better life

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) 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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