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Friday 28 August 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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Friday 26 June 2015

European hostages: mining the data

Members of French army special force take part in a mock hostage release exercise, on April 15, 2015 on a beach in Arcachon, southwestern France, as part of the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS). (AFP PHOTO / MEHDI FEDOUACH) Members of French army special force take part in a mock hostage release exercise, on April 15, 2015 on a beach in Arcachon, southwestern France, as part of the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS). (AFP PHOTO / MEHDI FEDOUACH)

(AFP Photo / Mehdi Fedouach)


"How many times have I heard this refrain since joining AFP nearly 20 years ago: ‘With millions of stories in our archives, we’re sitting on top of an information gold mine’," writes the journalist Marlowe Hood. "The European Hostage Project is a serious attempt to extract some of that buried treasure. A case study in data journalism, it uncovered patterns in the terrible traffic in hostages from Europe that up to now remained elusive if not invisible."

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Hostages for sale in Syria

A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI) A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI)

(AFP Photo / Giovanni Diffidenti)

"Pierre Piccinin da Prata describes himself as a historian and political scientist, but his work is more like a war reporter’s," writes Robin Braquet. "The Belgian researcher has travelled to Syria more than a dozen times. On one occasion, he almost didn’t make it home. In 2013, he was betrayed by a faction of the rebel Free Syrian Army and handed over to a group of hostage-takers."

"The FSA are portrayed in the West as Syria’s moderate rebels, opposed to both President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State group. Yet some of the group’s members are now known to have sold hostages to the jihadists, enticed by the high price offered for a captive Westerner."

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Monday 15 June 2015

Fleeing through the eye of a needle

Syrians fleeing the war rush through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory, near the Turkish border crossing at Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on June 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC) Syrians fleeing the war rush through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory, near the Turkish border crossing at Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on June 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


"We have been on the Turkey-Syria border for a week now, within sight of Tal Abyad where Kurdish forces are battling Islamic State jihadists for control," writes AFP's Bulent Kilic. "On Sunday, June 14, thousands of people fleeing the fighting suddenly appeared from behind the hill and swarmed down towards the border fence. Everything happened in five minutes. It was like a Hollywood film."

"I have been photographing this refugee crisis for nearly four years now, but yesterday was different. Almost every woman had children with her. I have never seen anything like it."

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Friday 12 June 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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Wednesday 27 May 2015

On tour with Hezbollah

A Hezbollah fighter monitors an area as he stands on a hill in the Lebanese side of the Qalamun mountains on the border with Syria on May 20, 2015 ( AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID) A Hezbollah fighter monitors an area as he stands on a hill in the Lebanese side of the Qalamun mountains on the border with Syria on May 20, 2015 ( AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID)

(AFP / Joseph Eid)


"The Hezbollah fighter grimaced as a bank of photographers kneeled in front of him, struggling to take pictures that complied with the group's strict media rules but would still have news value," writes Sara Hussein. "The interaction was part of an unusual media tour organised by the powerful Lebanese Shiite group of their positions in the Qalamun region on the porous Syria-Lebanon border."

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Friday 27 March 2015

Coming home to Kobane

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) 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)


"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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Monday 16 March 2015

The day everything bright turned black

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

(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."

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Thursday 12 March 2015

Lost in a metal shell

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) 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)

(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."

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Friday 6 March 2015

Hipstamatic in the high seas

A picture taken with a Hipstamatic application shows members of the French navy aircaft carrier Charles de Gaulle's safety and security team taking a break as the ship is operating in the Gulf on February 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ) A picture taken with a Hipstamatic application shows members of the French navy aircaft carrier Charles de Gaulle's safety and security team taking a break as the ship is operating in the Gulf on February 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ)

(AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)

"We board at the dock in Bahrain in late February: five days at sea to witness the deployment of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the fight against the Islamic State group – a floating town carrying 2,000 people on an eight-week mission in the Persian Gulf," writes AFP photographer Patrick Baz. "Aircraft carriers are a pretty familiar environment for me by now, having spent time on both French and US vessels during the Gulf Wars, the Afghan conflict – you name it. This time though, I got a chance to do something different."

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Thursday 12 February 2015

Bulent Kilic, from Taksim to Kobane

A young girl wounded during clashes between riot-police and prostestors after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during anti-government protests, in Istanbul on March 12, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC) A young girl wounded during clashes between riot-police and prostestors after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during anti-government protests, in Istanbul on March 12, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


The Turkish AFP photographer Bulent Kilic clinched two awards at the prestigious World Press Photo photojournalism awards, whose top prize went to Denmark’s Mads Nissen for an image of a gay couple in Russia. Bulent Kilic took first prize in the “Spot news” category for his image of a young woman injured during clashes between police and demonstrators on Istanbul’s Taksim Square in March 2014.

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Friday 6 February 2015

My people, under the bombs

An injured Syrian girl is treated at a makeshift clinic following air strikes by regime forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, north east of the capital Damascus, on February 5, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY) An injured Syrian girl is treated at a makeshift clinic following air strikes by regime forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, north east of the capital Damascus, on February 5, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY)

(AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)


"It’s an airstrike that wakes me up, just near my house in a rebel-held part of the Damascus suburbs," writes AFP photographer Abd Doumany. "It’s 8.30 am. I think at first it’s just the one, but my hopes soon fade with the sound of another strike. And another. The bombing doesn’t stop until sunset. The government jets target everything. Apartment blocks, mosques, schools, even a hospital. I see it as my duty to document people’s suffering. I also think it hurts much more, every detail, every story, because this is my home and these are my people."

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Wednesday 28 January 2015

Inside Kobane

A Kurdish fighter walks with his child in the center of the Syrian border town of Kobane, known as Ain al-Arab, on January 28, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC) A Kurdish fighter walks with his child in the center of the Syrian border town of Kobane, known as Ain al-Arab, on January 28, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


"We've been waiting for two days to get into Kobane, ever since Kurdish fighters wrested back the town from IS jihadists. Finally, this morning, the Turkish authorities say they will allow us access for a few hours," writes AFP photographer Bulent Kilic. "When this all started, I was watching Kobane from the outside. The bombing, the fighting, it was like hell. After all this, to enter the city, for the fight to be over, that is powerful for me too."

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Ties that bind, after the story ends

Syrian rebels come under fire at the Krak des Chevaliers in June 2012 (AFP / DJILALI BELAID) Syrian rebels come under fire at the Krak des Chevaliers in June 2012 (AFP / DJILALI BELAID)

(AFP/ Djilali Belaid)


"If you don’t have complete faith in someone who is taking you across a dangerous border - if you have even the slightest doubt - you don’t go. That level of trust between journalist and source creates a powerful bond. And a sense of duty if they later turn to you for help," writes AFP's Djilali Belaid. "During my last mission in Syria, in June 2012, I crossed the border from north Lebanon to reach the crusader fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, a 1,000-year-old citadel captured by rebels at the start of the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad. If you get caught, you are dead. My main contact on the trip was a young man named Ahmad. He is 24 years old."

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Monday 26 January 2015

I am a human kaleidoscope

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) 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)

(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'."

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Thursday 1 January 2015

Beauty out of chaos

(c) AFP - 2015 (c) AFP - 2015

(AFP)


PARIS, January 1, 2015 -To send off a year marked by wars, massacres, epidemics and countless tragedies, every day from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve, AFP's photographers told the story behind eight images of beauty or hope, taken in times of war, crisis or upheaval. Here is the complete photo series:

Happy New Year to all!


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Sunday 28 December 2014

Happy homecoming

Nicolas Henin (R) is reunited with his family at the Villacoublay air base near Paris after being released from captivity in Syria, April 20, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD) Nicolas Henin (R) is reunited with his family at the Villacoublay air base near Paris after being released from captivity in Syria, April 20, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

(AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)


"This has been a tragic year for journalists," writes Kenzo Tribouillard. "But there were also moments of great joy and relief for the profession, and I was lucky enough to witness one of them. On April 20 at dawn, I headed to the Villacoublay military airport outside Paris to cover the homecoming of four French journalists, held captive in Syria for months."

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Saturday 27 December 2014

Stroll through the ruins

A woman pushes a pram through the rubble of destroyed buildings in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma on December 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY) A woman pushes a pram through the rubble of destroyed buildings in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma on December 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY)

(AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)


"This was a crowded market before the Syria uprising. It’s one of the worst-damaged streets in Douma, the rebel bastion in the suburbs of Damascus that has been under government siege for more than a year now," writes Abd Doumany. "People are certainly not safe to venture outside, but they have to."

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Friday 5 December 2014

Cafes and snipers, from Beirut to Aleppo

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) 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)

(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."

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Wednesday 12 November 2014

Syria's 'hospital' of horrors

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) 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)

(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".

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