February 2002 | Archive | View images | © Erik Refner
reportage Before the war, beyond the war
Backgrounds & links

The Jalozai refugee camp was closed mid-February 2002, with tens of thousands of Afghans relocated to new sites along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Read more about the history of the camp and the current situation of the re-located refugees at the website of Docters without Borders USA at www.docters

The site also hosts two sets of photographs documenting life in the camp, one including photographs taken by refugees living in the camp, and another by photographer Jean-Marc Giboux.

Another photojournalist who has reported on the Jalozai camp in its early stages is Robert Knoth.
Editorial Afterthought

This year's winning World Press Photo image follows in the footsteps of last year's, emphatically repudiating the hard news agenda.

In 2000, the jury selected an image which could almost be described as a mise en scene. It showed a domestic moment from the daily life of a Mexican family who were illegal immigrants in George W. Bush's home state of Texas and not registered in the US census. Officially, therefore, they had ceased to exist. The judges' choice, then, had strong political undertones both in terms of internal US politics but also of the world-wide problem of economic migrants struggling to survive without rights and recognition.

Discussing the new winning picture, the president of the 2001 jury, the British photojournalist Roger Hutchings said that the judges had favoured the fact that it had been taken before September 11th. The jury wanted to avoid having to choose from one of the no doubt thousands of apocalyptic hard news pictures on offer of the terrorist attack and the subsequent reprisals. Once again, this seems to be a decision with a strong political message. September 11 was a news event unequalled in recent history but the jurors wanted to turn our gaze away from the playing out of international conflict and concentrate it on the experience of innocent people caught up in these power games.

Before the attack on the World Trade Center, the plight of Aghan refugees was just one of many terrible refugee stories around the world largely ignored by the western media. According to Roger Hutchings, many photojournalists wanted to cover the situation of Afghan refugees well before September 11 but were prevented by the indifference of those who control the global press. The extraordinary events suddenly imposed special status on this particular group of refugees, especially since their numbers were likely to be swollen by any US retaliation. The jury were deliberately choosing an image taken prior to major international news events aware that their choice of subject was given retrospective significance by these very same events. It is unlikely that this photograph, excellent though it is, would have won the judges' support as picture of the year if it had been taken in one of the many refugee camps around the world unaffected by terrorism.

The message going out from World Press Photo this year seems to be as much to the editors as to the readers: encourage the instinct of photojournalists to be our eyes on forgotten stories around the world when the mass of the press is preoccupied elsewhere. It is to the credit of the Danish press that they did just that.

We would welcome any email comments and contributions to this debate from our visitors, via our comments form.


UNHCR-commissioner Ruud Lubbers underlines the thinking behind the decisions of this years World Press Photo jury: "Jalozai's very existence was a sad reminder of the international community's neglect of the Afghan situation prior to the events of September 11th." (See www.reliefweb.int)

World Press Photo has kindly provided a deeplink to the 2000 prize winning image by Lara Jo Regan, please click here.
Pictures of the events of September 11th did feature as winners in several categories in this years competition, visit www.world
to view the complete results.

We would welcome any email comments and contributions to this debate from our visitors, via our comments form.
February 2002 | Archive | View images | © Erik Refner