Palestinian Woman With Dead Niece Image Wins World Press Photo Award

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A haunting image of a grieving Palestinian woman embracing her little niece, killed in an Israeli strike in war-torn Gaza, won the 2024 World Press Photo of the Year Award on Thursday.

The picture taken by Reuters news agency’s Mohammed Salem shows Inas Abu Maamar cradling the body of five-year-old Saly, who was killed with her mother and sister when a missile hit their home in Khan Younis in October.

Salem was in Khan Younis’ Nasser hospital on Oct.17 when he saw Maamar, 36, sobbing and tightly holding the wrapped body of her relative in the hospital’s morgue. The picture was taken 10 days after the start of the conflict.

“It was a powerful and a sad moment and I felt the picture sums up the broader sense of what was happening in the Gaza Strip,” World Press Photo quoted Salem as saying.

Announcing its annual awards, the Amsterdam-based World Press Photo Foundation said it was important to recognise the dangers facing journalists covering conflicts.

It said 99 journalists and media employees had been killed covering the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“The work of press and documentary photographers around the world is often done at high risk,” said Joumana El Zein Khoury, the organisation’s executive director.

“This past year, the death toll in Gaza pushed the number of journalists killed to a near-record high. It is important to recognise the trauma they have experienced to show the world the humanitarian impact of the war.”

Salem, a Palestinian aged 39, has worked for Reuters since 2003. He also won an award in the 2010 World Press Photo competition.

The jury said Salem’s 2024 winning image was “composed with care and respect, offering at once a metaphorical and literal glimpse into unimaginable loss.”

‘PROFOUNDLY AFFECTING’

Salem’s wife had given birth to their child days before he took the shot. The photograph is “profoundly affecting,” said jury chairwoman Fiona Shields, head of photography at Guardian News & Media.

“Once you’ve seen it, it’s kind of seared in your mind,” she said. “It works as a kind of literal and metaphorical message really about the horror and futility of conflict.” “It’s an incredibly powerful argument for peace,” Shields added.

The jury selected the winning photos from 61,062 entries by 3,851 photographers from 130 countries.

GEO photographer Lee-Ann Olwage of South Africa won the story of the year category with images documenting dementia in Madagascar.

The long-term projects category was won by Alejandro Cegarra of Venezuela for the series “The Two Walls” for The New York Times/Bloomberg.

Ukrainian photographer Julia Kochetova won the open format award with “War is Personal”, which documented the war in her country by weaving together pictures, poetry, audio and music in documentary style.

Courtesy: Gulf Today

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