Press release from UNICEF Cologne/Berlin, December 21, 2017
THE FACE OF A BARGAINED CHILDHOOD
This 2017 UNICEF photo shows the distress war and flight leave in a child’s eyes. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Muhammed Muheisen photographed five-year-old Zahra from Syria in a refugee camp in the Mafraq suburb of Jordan. In Zahra’s face, the viewer encounters the silent suffering of millions of children in the world’s crisis countries.
The second and third prizes in UNICEF Germany’s international photo competition document the fate of mothers and children from the Rohingya ethnic minority who had to flee violence in their homeland of Myanmar. Bangladeshi-born photographer K.M. Asad captures the moment when a mother carries her baby through the sea to land. Kevin Frayer (Canada) portrays the desperation of a boy in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, as he climbs onto a truck carrying relief supplies.
“Children’s eyes tell the truth,” explained Elke Büdenbender, patron of UNICEF Germany, at the award ceremony in Berlin. “The photo of little Zahra tells a powerful story of the horror and desolation she had to experience in her young life. You have to keep looking at that face. It represents the fate of millions of children.”
“Renowned photographers from all over the world have submitted more than 100 great reports from the hotspots of the world, but also subtle photographic essays about sensitivities and distortions in the affluent countries. They open up a deep, aesthetically valuable and complex insight into the conditions and relationships of our earth,” said the chairman of the jury, Prof. Klaus Honnef.
The winning picture: Zahra’s face © Muhammed Muheisen, Jordan (AP/dpa)
In the face of the only five-year-old Syrian girl Zahra, the Jerusalem-born photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen discovered the abused childhood of an entire generation of Syrian children. He met Zahra in a makeshift refugee camp in Jordan. Zahra’s parents fled there with her and seven other children in 2015 before the war.
Even in the seventh winter of the war in Syria people are still shooting, dying and starving. Like Zahra, millions of boys and girls spend often desolate childhoods in refugee camps and makeshift shelters. Muhammed Muheisen has been documenting the tragedies in the Middle East, Europe, Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Associated Press (AP) news agency for many years.
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