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Photo of Palestinian woman embracing her dead niece wins World Press Photo of the Year


Palestinian photographer Mohammed Salem has won World Press Photo of the Year with a moving image of a Palestinian woman embracing her slain niece in the mortuary of Nasser Hospital.

Mohammed Salem made the image on October 17, 2023. We see 36-year-old Inas Abu Maaram with her five-year-old niece Saly in Khan Younis. Earlier in the day, the family’s home was bombed by the Israeli army. When she couldn’t find any family members among the rubble, she rushed to Nasser Hospital and found Saly among the victims of the attack. Salem, who had become a father himself a few days earlier, captured the scene.

It is not the first time that Mohammed Salem has been praised by the World Press Photo for his images of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian population. In 2010, his image of an Israeli white phosphorus bomb dropped over Gaza City was selected. The image of Inas Abu Maaram also made the cover of the annual photo overview of the Weekblad van De Standaard.

In the Story of the Year category, South African Lee-Ann Olwage won with an intimate story about elderly care and the lack of awareness about dementia in Madagascar. In her images we see 93-year-old ‘Dada Paul’ who has been living with dementia for eleven years and lives with his daughter Fara and her daughter. For a long time, his children thought their father had simply gone crazy or that years of drinking alcohol had taken their toll. It was Fara who first noticed that there was more going on and took care of her father.

The winner in the Long-term project category was the Venezuelan Alejandro Cerraga, who has been portraying the fate of migrants at the border between Mexico and the United States since 2019. Cerraga himself was one of the many Venezuelans who fled their home country in 2017 in search of a better life. Once he arrived in Mexico, he decided to portray his fellow sufferers to share their story with the world.

The prize in the Open format category, where photography can be combined with other ways of storytelling, went to Julia Kochetova’s project War is personal. Kochetova wanted to tell the story of the ongoing war in Ukraine in a way that goes beyond news reporting, where the focus is often on anonymous numbers and statistics. The end result is an interactive website that combines photojournalism with sound fragments, poetry, personal messages and so on. This makes it a personal diary of those who are forced to experience the war.

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