The title of World Press Photo of the Year goes to Warren Richardson for his picture of a man and child captured by moonlight as they attempted to cross the border from Serbia to Hungary last summer. And the first places in each of the four main news categories include scenes from the shores of Lesvos, a Kurdish hospital, and the heavily bombarded suburb of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus.
Richardson, an Australian photographer based in Hungary, wins 1st prize in the singles category for Spot News with the same image, while the 1st prize story goes to Sameer Al-Doumy for his reportage from rebel-held Douma, which has been subject to months of heavy aerial bombardment on the back of a two-year siege.
In General News, Mauricio Lima, a veteran Brazilian working on assignment for The New York Times, wins 1st prize singles for a more ambiguous image of an Islamic State soldier being treated for severe, full-body burns by a Kurdish doctor in Syria, seen over by a giant poster of Abdullah Ocalan, the revered leader of the Kurdish Workers Party jailed in 1999. The 1st prize stories goes to Russian photojournalist Sergey Ponomarev, also on assignment for The New York Times (there are five stories in total shot for the newspaper in this year’s winners’ list) for his reporting on the refugee crisis, working along migrant routes from Lesbos through eastern Europe.
In fact, seven of the 12 winners across the news categories were from Syria or the refugee crisis. They included Paul Hansen, the 2013 winner, recognised this time around for an image that, like Richardson’s, captures refugees crossing frontiers under the cover of dark, this time further down the trail, as a group arrives in Lesbos. And there is horror, a reminder of what many of these refugees are running from, in Abd Doumany’s photographs of dead and wounded children, following airstrikes on Douma. He and Al-Doumy are both Syrian, working in their homeland for Agence France-Presse. Four of the agency’s photographers won awards this year.
The remaining five winners in the news categories reported the Tianjin explosion in China last August, a massive earthquake in Nepal in April, and the subsequent avalanche that fell on Everest Base Camp, demonstrations in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and gang-related violence in Honduras.