World Press Photo of Year Comes From Gaza

No faces, but plenty of pain in the image from Mohammed Salem of Reuters
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2024 7:50 AM CDT
In World Press Photo of Year, No Faces, but Plenty of Pain
This image taken by Mohammed Salem of the Reuters news agency won the World Press Photo Award of the Year and shows Palestinian woman Inas Abu Maamar, 36, embracing the body of her 5-year-old niece Saly, who was killed in an Israeli strike, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, October 17, 2023.   (Mohammed Salem/Reuters/World Press Photo via AP)

Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem captured this year's prestigious World Press Photo of the Year award Thursday with a depiction of loss and sorrow in Gaza, a heartrending photo of a Palestinian woman cradling the body of her young niece. The photograph, taken in Khan Younis just days after Salem's own child was born, shows 36-year-old Inas Abu Maamar holding 5-year-old Saly, who was killed along with her mother and sister when an Israeli missile struck their home, per the AP. Salem, who is Palestinian, described this photo filed Nov. 2 last year, as a "powerful and sad moment that sums up the broader sense of what was happening in the Gaza Strip."

The image "truly encapsulates this sense of impact," said global jury chair Fiona Shields, the Guardian newspaper's head of photography. "It is incredibly moving to view and at the same time an argument for peace, which is extremely powerful when peace can sometimes feel like an unlikely fantasy," she added. The World Press Photo jury praised the shot's sense of care and respect and its offering of a "metaphorical and literal glimpse into unimaginable loss." This is not the first time Salem has been recognized for his work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; he received a World Press Photo award more than a decade ago for another depiction of the human toll of conflict in the Gaza strip.

In the three other global categories announced Thursday, South Africa's Lee-Ann Olwage won Photo Story of the Year for her touching series "Valim-babena," featured in GEO magazine. The project focused on the stigmatization of dementia in Madagascar, a topic she explored through intimate portraits of "Dada Paul" and his family. Photographer Alejandro Cegarra, a Venezuelan native who migrated to Mexico in 2017, won the Long-Term Project award for "The Two Walls," published by the New York Times and Bloomberg. Cegarra's project, initiated in 2018, examines a shift in Mexico's immigration policies, which have moved from being historically open to enforcing strict regulations at its southern border.

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Julia Kochetova of Ukraine won the Open Format award for "War Is Personal," a project offering a personal look at the harsh realities of war. The AP won the Open Format award in the regional Africa category with the multimedia story "Adrift" about West African migrants, created by journalists Renata Brito and Felipe Dana. The AP's Ebrahim Noroozi won the Asia Stories award for his series "Afghanistan on the Edge," which documents the country since the Taliban took over in August 2021. (More photography stories.)

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