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Freedoms, civilian targets and risk are focus at Bayeux awards for war reporting

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A militia fighter at a post on the Taez road in, 'Yemen a War Out of Sight' Exhibition at Bayeux War Correspondents' Week 2018 Olivier Laban-Mattei/Myop for Le Monde

The winners of the Bayeux War Correspondents 25th awards send a clear message through their work, that civilians cannot be described as collateral damage in conflicts and that freedom of expression is a precious resource.


Jury chair, US veteran war reporter for CNN international television,Christiane Amanpour said at the awards ceremony, “Bosnia was the training ground for my generation. My mantra became ‘truth not neutrality’, and journalists here know the difference between objectivity and neutrality.”

The 50-member jury chose AFP’s Mahmud Hams for the second time, for the top photographer’s award. They picked his colour series, Clashes on Gaza’s Border in the Palestinian Hamas-run territory out of entries covering wars and related situations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mexico, Venezuela and Yemen which is not an exhaustive list.

The most striking photo which illustrates the situation in the area was taken in March 2018, of a legless man on a chair in the desert. He’s stretching a home-made catapult for stones, against a cloud of black smoke towards which move two figures clad in black with the Palestinian flag tied around their shoulders.

Slave Auction in Libya was the subject of a long-researched TV report, on a possible crime against humanity, by an international team working for CNN International which won the TV prize.

Alex Platt, Raja Razek and Nima Elgabir took their own risks by taking part in a slave auction, but said Sudan-born Elgabir, “the risks for people in Libya in our film were greater.”

She said some of the victims in the film, are African migrants trying to get to Europe. She said that “for them the biggest most expansive dream they can dream is to end up in Europe.

"It is very unfair of us to tell them they don’t have a right to that. What we need to look at is dignified and safe passage, for people who are deserving of refuge or who can contribute to European life. It shouldn’t be either you succeed in achieving your dreams or you die," she said.

Gwendoline Debono who works for the French private radio station, Europe 1, took the Bayeux Radio Award for the second-year running. Her short report on women who had for different reasons, joined jihad networks and who are kept in limbo, with or without their children is called Ni prisonnières, ni réfudiées : femmes djihadistes en Syrie - Neither prisoners nor refugees: Women Jihadists in Syria.

The Bayeux War Correspondents Awards has continued to expand its activities and outreach. Today is seen as key for young people and education.

School groups have been meeting war reporters and visiting Yemen, A War Out of Sight in the historic and decorative Chapel of the Bayex Tapestry.

40 photos from 11 war photographers, describe and help explain the complexities of the ongoing conflict which is rarely headline news. It’s curated by Jean-Philippe Rémy of French newspaper Le Monde. Johannesburg-based Rémy won a special award for his 2017 series with photographer Olivier Laban-Mattei for the report Yemen at War.

Another should-be hot news story is the subject of photographers Colin Delfosse and Michele Sibiloni’s work in DRC, Uganda and Angola. In the Bayeux Museum, RDC: La Crise de l’Ombre – DRC: The Shadow Crisis, they present arresting images of refugees and displaced people fleeing conflict and violence, photos commissioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

A seminal exhibition in its genre, Raconter La Guerre -Talking About War curated by Adrien Jaulmes and has drawn crowds this year. It retraces the history of war reporting over the past 150 years in the Hotel du Doyen.

All the exhibitions run till 4 November 2018.

Mainstream films have become part of the week-long programme such as the story of an Afghani girl, Parvana, or two Cannes featured films, Nadine Labaki’s Capharnaum on poverty and refugees in Lebanon, and Eve Husson’s Girls of the Sun about Kurdish women fighters and a French war reporter, set in northern Iraq.

One of the event’s hosts, Jean-Léonce Dupont, the president of Normandy’s Calvados County Council, called a ‘Départment’ in France, explained that the Bayeux International War Correspondents’ Awards had been established in 1994, “To perpetuate memories, history and war records, 50 years after the D-Day landing,” when war reporters and soldiers died side by side in World War on the Normandy shores.

Dupont’s personal message was, “without freedom of expression, there is no freedom, without journalists there is no freedom of expression.”

25th Bayeux War Correspondents International Jury Awards:

  • PHOTO - Mahmud Hams – Clashes on Gaza’s Border – AFP - Palestine
  • TV - Nima Elbagir, Alex Platt and Raja Razek – Libya Slave Auction –Libya CNN
  • PRINT - Kenneth R. Rosen – The Devil’s Henchmen – Iraq - Atavist Magazine
  • RADIO – Gwendoline Debono – Ni prisonnières, ni réfugiées : femmes djihadistes en Syrie – Syria – Europe 1
  • YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHER - Mushfiqul Alam – The Great Exodus – Bangladesh – Freelance
  • BIG FORMAT TV - Nicolas Bertrand and Thomas Donzel – Rohingyas: The Damned of Burma – Myanmar/Bangladesh – France 2
  • VIDEO IMAGE – Darren Conway – Mexico’s Drug War - BBC