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Yemen’s winning World Press Photo

18 Feb
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.

Fatima Al-Qaws, is the veiled woman cradling her wounded son after an anti-government demonstration in October. She is also one of the subjects in Samuel Aranda’s winning World Press photo.

Al-Qaws, who is from Ba’dan district in Ibb governorate but lives in Sana’a, explained that she only found out about the photo after her niece phoned from the UAE – though she still did not realize the significance of the picture.

“I thought that the photo people were talking about was actually my appearance in an interview on Suhail TV and Al-Jazeera some months ago, so I did not pay much attention to it,” she said, but her niece insisted it was her and her son.

Al-Qaws explained that she first saw the photo on her son’s mobile phone and recalled the day of October 15 on Al-Zubairy Street – a conflict line between anti-regime protesters and security forces at the time.

“It was after an attack against demonstrators on Al-Zubairy Street,” she said. “I went to the field hospital and did not see my son among the dead or wounded protesters. I checked the place again and saw my son lying on the ground suffocated with tear gas,” she explained. “So I embraced him and [Aranda] must have taken the photo at that moment.”

Her son, Zayed Al-Qawas, 18, said he thought it was a joke until more people called to tell him about Aranda’s picture.

“I did not expect this photo to win among thousands of pictures and it is a real support to the revolution,” he said. “It demonstrates that Yemenis are not extremists.”

Helping Yemen

The Spanish photographer’s photo, which was taken while on assignment for the New York Times, beat off competition from more than 100,000 entries to win one of the most prestigious photography awards on Friday.

The New York Times’ Lens Blog wrote that after hearing the news, Aranda called his mother in Spain, who cried for 45 minutes. He said that “while conversations might revolve around composition and form”, he hopes it will help the people of Yemen. He also commented on the help he received from Yemeni photographers – specifically mentioning Mohamed Al-Sayaghi of Reuters.

Aranda, who now lives in Tunisia, covered the Arab Spring from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In December, he presented a selection of Arab Spring photos at the Spanish Embassy in Sana’a, alongside freelance photographer Lindsay Mackenzie.

‘An intimate moment’

Koyo Kouoh, one of the jury members on the World Press photo board, said: “It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring.

“But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.”

Nina Berman, another World Press judge, added, “In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment – in moments like this.”

Yemeni photographers are also proud of Aranda’s achievement. “We feel proud of this photo because it is very important for the world to have a new impression of Yemen,” Nadia Abdulla, a freelance Yemeni photographer, said.

“The foreign media has been presenting Yemenis as terrorists but this is the first time Yemen’s beautiful and expressive side has been shown,” she added.

Setting the standard

The 2011 World Press Photo award is the 55th annual contest in what is universally recognized as the world’s leading photojournalism prize, setting the standard for the profession.

The contest draws entries by professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from across the world, with 5,247 photographers from 124 countries participating this year and 101,254 pictures judged.

The jury awarded prizes to 57 photographers in nine themed categories, with the Arab Spring and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami both making a big impact.

All entries are presented and judged anonymously by 19 internationally recognized professionals over two weeks before the winners are announced.

Aranda will officially receive his World Press award in Amsterdam on Saturday, April. 21, 2012. The award also carries a cash prize of €10,000 and a Canon EOS Digital SLR Camera and lens kit.

An exhibition of the award-winning images will be open to the public at the Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein, in Amsterdam on Friday, April 20, until June 17.

A worldwide tour of the exhibition will also be launched, covering a record 105 venues in 45 countries. Combined with a yearbook, distributed internationally in seven languages, the winning images will reach a worldwide audience of millions in the course of the year


Escalating violence in Sa’ada hinders IDPs return

25 Nov
More than 280,000 people remain displaced from their homes due to violence in Sa’ada. IDPs live in tents, relying on aid agencies for food and shelter.Yemen Online NewsMalak ShaherPublished:25-11-2010

SANA’A, Nov. 24 — Renewed fighting between Houthi rebels and a pro-government tribe had left at least 20 people dead and several wounded. The clashes are the worst since the cease fire signed in Feb. 2010, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).Since Nov. 13, violence between the pro-government Galga tribe and the Houthis have killed at least 20 and injured another nine. Further fighting broke out in Bani Owaibary to the north of Sa’ada, killing six and injuring three.

“How can we return to our villages while the clashes continue to increase? We cannot return back as our houses are destroyed and danger is everywhere,” former Sa’ada resident, Ali Ahmad, told the Yemen Times. “Now I live with my three children, my wife, mother, brother and sister in a small tent suffering from the cold weather. I cannot risk taking them back and exposing their lives to danger, let alone that our house in Sa’ada has been destroyed.”

Dozens of families, like Ahmad’s, want to return home but the escalating violence between Houthis and pro-government tribes, which erupted again without warning, is forcing the internally displaced people (IDPs) from Sa’ada to stay in the camps.

The recent conflict began on Nov. 15, paused for five days over Eid, and resumed on Nov. 20. More than 12 armed Houthis were killed before Eid.

UNHCR’s public information assistant, Jamal Al-Najjar, told the Yemen Times that the clashes, which started just three days before Eid, prevented dozens of IDPs from returning to their homes. UNHCR has not had access to other IDPs living in tents in Qataber and Manbah, near the Saudi border.

“The intermittent clashes between the tribes and the Houthis have stopped many IDPs from returning home,” said Al-Najjar. “Only 20,000 IDPs out of 300,000 went back.” He added that other tribes have mediated between the Houthis and the Galga tribe to stop the clashes at least during Eid.

“This is an alarming escalation. UNHCR adds its voice to that of the local mediation committee in calling for calm and protection of the civilian population,” said spokesperson Andrej Mahecic in a press conference in Geneva. “We remain very concerned about the lack of access and the humanitarian situation in other parts of the governorate.”

Ahmad Ali is currently one of 280,000 displaced people. He has been displaced for nearly a year after leaving his house during the last Sa’ada war, which started in Aug. 2009 and ended in Feb. 2010. Although he receives aid and food in the camp, he dreams of the day he can return back home with his family, where his children can go to school and his family can live peacefully.

Car bomb attack

In a separate incident in the northern governorate of Al-Jawf, a car bomb struck a religious procession of Shiites, killing at least 15 people on Wednesday. A car packed with explosives detonated alongside a crowd of Houthis, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam told AFP.

Abdulsalam said the attack targeted Houthis who were preparing to mark Al-Ghadeer, the day on which Shiites commemorate Ali Bin Abi Taleb, a key figure of the Shiite Houthi faith, as supposed successor to the Prophet Mohammed in ruling the Islamic Umma.

The anniversary has long been a source of conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. A tribal leader told AFP that the bombing was the work of Sunni militants loyal to Al-Qaeda.

“A suicide bomber driving a four-wheel drive vehicle blew himself up alongside the procession,” the tribal chief told AFP. “Among the dead was the provincial tribal chief Hussein bin Ahmed bin Hadhban and his son.”

Other tribal sources warned that the death toll was likely to rise. One told AFP “it could reach 30.”