Saturday 27 April 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa April 26, 2019

I’ve been away this week but thought that I’d still share my choice of the best from the region without the commentary, enjoy.

A Sudanese demonstrator carries a noose and gestures during a mass anti-government protest outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 21, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah 

Ink bottles are seen in a polling station during the second day of the referendum on draft constitutional amendments, in Cairo, Egypt, April 21, 2019.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Worshippers gather in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City during the traditional Washing of the Feet ceremony in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Murals painted by Palestinian artist Alo Al-Jabail are seen on the remains of a building destroyed in former Israel airstrikes, in Gaza City April 15, 2019.  REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

A Libyan man is seen through a burning poster of French President Emmanuel Macron during a demonstration to demand an end to the Khalifa Haftar’s led offensive against Tripoli, at Martyrs’ Square in central Tripoli April 26, 2019.   REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah 

Orthodox Christian worshippers take part in the Good Friday services in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City April 26, 2019.    REUTERS/Corinna Kern

People queue to buy bread in Aleppo’s Kalasa district, Syria 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

An Iraqi Marsh Arab woman paddles her boat at the Chebayesh marsh in Dhi Qar province, Iraq April 13, 2019.   REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

A presidential protection guard from South Sudan’s People Defence Force (SSPDF) walks in the rain after a parade at their training camp in Rejaf West, outside Juba, South Sudan April 26, 2019.    REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu

A Sudanese girl with a painted face watches as protesters demonstrate outside the defence ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan, April 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Thursday 18 April 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa April 19, 2019

Look at me! Listen to my protest! is the message from this picture from Sudan. The flame licking into the half-light of the evening highlights the protester’s glasses and open mouth so that he takes on the momentary appearance of a fire-breathing dragon. Once your eyes get used to the bright light of the flame you can see the thousands of protesters in the background, stretching into the horizon of the evening gloom. 

A Sudanese demonstrator chants slogan as he attends a sit-in protest outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 14, 2019.    REUTERS

A big, fun yellow picture, a big smile, curls of hair and hands emerging from a mist of yellow powder. The only other real colour is the red mask guiding us to the laughing eyes of the person on the right. There is no way you can look at this picture without feeling the warmth of a smile.    

A girl is covered in yellow powder during Egypt’s first Colour Run in Giza Egypt April 13, 2019.    REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

Ali Hashisho’s picture has a feeling of a post-apocalyptic scene as three unidentified figures stand framed in a ruined building, looking across a cityscape at storm clouds in the distance. Are they gathering or clearing? The dash of warm sunlight on the broken concrete pillar to the left gives us some hope.   

Children stand together inside a damaged house in Kobani, Syria April 3, 2019.   REUTERS/Ali Hashisho 

Omar Sanadiki’s pictures need a little text to help explain them. On the face of it, we see ruined buildings with vegetation. So what? Now understand that this peaceful verdant scene was recently the scene of fierce fighting in Aleppo, Syria. I include two images from Omar, because the pictures need some explanation. The most colourful image, with reds and yellows, just does not have enough buildings to illustrate the context of the story. So much for the adage ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. Read on here.  

Blossomed vegetation is seen over damaged buildings and the ancient citadel during a warm day of spring in the old city of Aleppo, Syria April 9, 2019.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Poppies are seen in full bloom during spring in Aleppo governorate, Syria April 14, 2019.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

What a wonderful picture by Umit Bektas as he plays with scale and space. Almost a silhouette, but thankfully not. Your eye is drawn quickly to the figures in the trees, a flag extended as it is waved back and forth. These men look far too big to be safely in the tree, and maybe this sense is created by the open space above them or the line of figures beneath them. See more from Sudan here

Sudanese demonstrators wave a flag after climbing a tree outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Umit Bektas 

It’s just a lot of fun, people hugging, laughing and enjoying a moment perfectly captured by Luc Gnago as Ivanka Trumps visits Ivory Coast amid a myriad of dancing shapes, colours, stripes, patterns and smiles. Normally these visits are very stiff and formal but this breaks the mould. 

White House advisor Ivanka Trump dances as she meets women entrepreneurs, at the demonstration cocoa farm in Adzope, Ivory Coast, April 17, 2019.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Baz Ratner’s image is a little unsettling. I think the obvious reason is the figure wearing full bio protective gear walking behind the woman and the child seemingly unnoticed. What can be going on that this this gear is needed but there is a child unprotected? This then brings you to the full-on eye contact from both the woman and the child. You are drawn into the picture and it’s then you begin to notice that the only natural elements in this image are the uncovered faces. Plastic gloves, plastic clothing, plastic mask, plastic background and plastic fencing in the foreground. It all feels very unnatural and in this environment you are captivated by the eye contact, and that is unsettling. Why aren’t these people protected too?  Read on here to discover the story of those who survived Ebola caring for children with the killer disease.      

Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a carer to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds a child outside the red zone of the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 25, 2019.    REUTERS/Baz Ratner   

To describe Mohamed Abd Al Ghany’s picture of an old book as lush - very rich and providing great sensory pleasure - might be a step too far but it’s the word I kept coming back to when looking at this detail picture. The warm tones of the aged pages, wrinkled with time, make us want to touch the book. The clever crop, so you can’t see all the book, ensures we spend time looking at the ancient text, which is quite exquisite. You can see more artefacts and the restoration project here.   

‘Codex Syriacus’, an ancient copy of the Gospels in Syriac, is seen on display in St. Catherine’s Monastery in South Sinai, Egypt, March 7, 2019.  REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

Hard to ignore the wonderful beam of light in Ammar Awad’s picture of clergy during Holy Week in Jerusalem. Equally hard to ignore is the candle-lit procession of worshippers in the Holy City. These pictures really speak for themselves so I will let them do just that.       

Members of the clergy take part in the Catholic Washing of the Feet ceremony on Easter Holy Week in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 18, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Worshippers take part in a procession during the Catholic Washing of the Feet ceremony on Easter Holy Week in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 18, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Friday 12 April 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa April 12, 2019

An uncomfortable collection of colours immediately puts the mind ill at ease in Baz Ratner’s picture. Yellows, orange, greens, grays and purple, something feels instinctively not right. The people in the image are covered from head to toe in heavy protection equipment. The object of their focus, a purple coffin. We are right to feel ill at ease as these workers are carrying away another victim of Ebola. Read on here 

Workers dressed in Ebola protective suits carry a coffin with the body of a woman who has died of Ebola, as it is transported for burial from the Ebola Treatment Centre in Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo March 28, 2019.  REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Tension in Sudan is high with people coming out on the streets to protest against Bashir’s government. Taking pictures is not easy for fear of arrest. A protester’s hand raised in a peace or maybe victory sign dwarfs the figures on the flyover in a slightly bizarre David Byrne of Talking Heads video distortion of scale. Each finger is the same size as the figures on the bridge, almost as if it’s reaching out to obscure them. Latest from Sudan here

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans and wave their national flag during a protest demanding Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to step down outside the defence ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 8, 2019.   REUTERS

Only days later the tension is broken. Crowds carry soldiers on their shoulders after the announcement that Bashir has been removed from power by the army. The picture is crammed full of noise, heat and energy. You can’t look anywhere without seeing hands, arms, phones, flags and faces all celebrating the news. Slightly counter intuitively, I like that you can’t see the face of the soldier as this forces you to look around the whole scene. If you could see his face your eye would zoom in on that and you’d miss out on the collective relief and the noisy celebration of the crowd although of course, many on the streets are wary of the latest announcement, saying they want a civilian government.  

A military officer is carried in the crowd as demonstrators chant slogans and carry their national flags, after Sudan’s Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said that President Omar al-Bashir had been detained ‘in a safe place’ and that a military council would run the country for a two year transitional period.  REUTERS

To shoot a whole story where the faces of your subjects must not be identifiable is not easy. Essam al-Sudani has cleverly used a poster on the wall to make you feel that you are being looked back at in his picture even though the main subjects’ heads are covered in towels. When you look at the poster closely you soon realise that it too has a sense of being obscured because the face is a composition of two images. You can’t really see any faces and you feel you are trying to look at something or somebody that is hidden, a perfect way to illustrate the fight against the drugs trade in Iraq. It’s taken months to publish this story (hence the December date) but well worth the wait. You can read on here 

Iraqi suspects who were arrested for drug-related crime are seen at a police station in Basra, Iraq December 18, 2019.  REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani  

Mohammed Salem’s use of a bold portrait format to look at those who have lost limbs in Israel-Gaza border clashes during the last twelve months works in its simplicity. It’s been deliberately shot very dark. You need to fight your way into the image to seek out the details in the shadows. Only once you are there, do you notice the determined look on their faces and then the damaged and broken bodies. Read on here

A combination picture shows Palestinians who, according to medics, lost their legs after being shot by Israeli forces during protests at the Israeli-Gaza border, posing for pictures in Gaza March 13 and 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem 

I am attracted to Ronen Zvulun’s picture as it looks like it is from a bygone era. A suited booted and tie-wearing politician is drumming up support from a soapbox on the election campaign. It’s more the shape of the crowd and the shop venue that give this impression. Once you begin to inspect the crowd of ‘potential voters’ most are revealed to be security staff or people armed with smart phones, bringing us sharply back to the modern age of digital political husting inside a ring of security.         

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he visits Mahane Yehuda Market a day ahead of the Israeli national elections, in Jerusalem April 8, 2019.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

It takes just a little time to spot the enormous tear that is rolling down Maria’s face in Zohra Bensemra’s moving picture. The solemn moment of grief slowly wells up as we study the image. The soft light on her face and the cool blues of her clothing set the sad tone. We want to know more, we need to read on, and we know her story is sad. See Zohra's full story here 

A tear falls down the face of maria Jofresse, 25, during an interview at a camp for the displaced in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in John Segredo, near Beira, Mozambique March 31, 2019.  Maria lost her two children to the storm.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

There’s no mistaking this father’s grief as he buries his daughter in Khaled Abdullah’s picture from Yemen. Your eye is drawn immediately to the father’s face as he screams to the heavens. What you see next is his hand tightly gripping the funeral shroud. From this point you start to study the faces around this distraught man. Light is thrown up from the shroud warming the tones of the three faces immediately to the right. You don’t notice the TV camera in the shadows as your eye moves through the crowd. Eventually you end up at the figure at the top left, his arm and fingers guiding you back into the picture and to the father’s grief. There is no escape.   

A man reacts as he lowers the body of his daughter to a grave during the burial of people who were killed by a blast in Sanaa, Yemen April 10, 2019.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah 

A heart-warming series of pictures of twins by Afolabi Sotunde. Hard to single one out as they all quite fun but I do like the simplicity of the composition of the two boys who pose in the equally divided picture. It’s only the difference in the boy’s shorts that stops us from being fooled into thinking that this might be a mirrored image. You can enjoy the rest of the story here 

Identical twins Taiwo Ahmed and Kehinde Ahmed pose for a picture is Igbo Ora, Oyo State, Nigeria April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde 

It would of course be quite fitting to use an image of bleached skulls to illustrate the 25th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. Or maybe the torch lighting by heads of state, or  even any of the many images from the ceremony itself. But I think Baz Ratner’s simple silhouetted image of people arriving for the commemoration speaks volumes. An indeterminate number of unidentifiable people solemnly set against a blood-red sky seems a fitting tribute to the thousands who died. See more from the ceremony here  

Participants arrive to a night vigil during a commemoration ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, at the Amahoro stadium Kigali, Rwanda April 7, 2019.    REUTERS/Baz Ratner

There is no avoiding the emotive issue of what to do with the children of ISIS fighters once you have seen Ali Hashisho’s poignant picture of a tiny pair of feet belonging to a malnourished child in Syria. Such a simple picture, a globally recognisable image of innocence, these could be the feet of any child. The narrow depth of field throws the rest of the baby out of focus but we get the sense it is not sleeping comfortably. The picture begs the question, what next? Read on here

A child of an Islamic State fighter, who suffers from malnourishment, sleeps at a hospital in Hasaka, northeastern Syria April 6, 2019.   REUTERS/Ali Hashisho  

From his many terrific pictures of the demonstrations in Algeria I have selected one by Ramzi Boudina that answers the question: what does it look like when you are hit with a water cannon? It is not the most compositionally beautiful image and the white vehicles in the background are a bit of a distraction, but you get a real sense of being in the moment, which what great news photography is all about. More from Algeria here 

Police officers use water canon to disperse people protesting after parliament appointed upper house chairman Abdelkader Bensalah as interim president following the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers, Algeria April 9, 2019.   REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

Monday 8 April 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa April 5, 2019

A hand reaches in from the bright highlight as if attempting to touch the untouchable in Khaled Abdullah’s gentle picture of people suffering from cholera. Your eye goes straight to the women’s fingertips as everything else in this image is confusing and heavily backlit. The only other recognizable shapes are the saline bottles for the drip feed. You can see all you need to know in this compassionate image: someone is trying to get close to a loved one who is sick and in isolation. Read on here

A woman standing outside a tent where patients receive medical care at a Cholera treatment centre looks in at patients in Sanaa, Yemen March 10, 2019.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

What is attractive about Mohammed Salem’s picture is the rather playful use of scale and colour. Your eye flicks back from the writing on the bricks to the figures walking along the wall. Are the bricks in the foreground and is a trick of perspective is being played on us, or are they very large? The writings on the wall - messages of love and politics - add to this confusion. The colour plays with us too, giving an impression that this is a seascape, since the bricks are painted in the colours of the sea, and the rocks on top appear like crests of breaking waves just below blue skies and high white clouds. 
Palestinians walks on concrete blocks at the seaport of Gaza City April 2, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

The nonchalance of the protester as he strides towards the flames, hat at a jaunty angle and tyre in hand, in Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture, is just irresistible. He’s got the body language of someone who has had enough and is resigned to doing something about it. What is especially nice is that Siphiwe has kept the foot in the frame. Cut off toes are a pet peeve of mine.  

A man walks with a car tyre as he barricades the street during a service delivery protest in Alexandra township in the north of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 3, 2019.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Even though Ramzi Boudina has cut off the fingers on the left of the picture (see my pet hate above), he’s produced a wonderful picture that exudes a mood of celebration and relief. News has just broken that President Bouteflika has resigned and the protest mood has changed to one of celebration and it’s now unlikely there will be confrontation with the police. The faces say it all. The crowd seems to press down on the man on the foreground, the light giving us a sense of heat and claustrophobia as we squint against its brightness. Read on here

People celebrate on the streets after Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika submitted his resignation, in Algiers, Algeria, April 2, 2019.   REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

A quiet day in Cairo so Amr Abdallah Dalsh had time to play with some lines and shapes. The fan-like shapes of the bridge and the fence aided by the curves of the uprights speed us to the perspective vanishing point dotted by the red brake light of the motorcyclist. I like the sliver of light alongside the length of the building on the right of the frame, because without it the picture would ‘fall’ to the right. And lastly spare a moment to consider where Amr is standing to shoot this image, bearing in mind the chaos of Cairo traffic.

People drive over Imbaba Bridge near Nile City Towers, owned by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris in Cairo, Egypt, April 3, 2019.    REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

F1 motor racing is a terrific spectacle. When a car is damaged at night and still powers around the track spraying sparks, it’s really quite amazing. To capture that action the way Thaier al-Sudani has succeeded in doing is not easy but you need to be lucky. It’s all about being in the right place. The action took place a long way away and the frame had to cropped very tightly. The background is clean and dark so the sparks show up, It’s also at night, so far more dramatic than if it had happened in daylight.      

Sparks fly as Ferrari Formula One F1 driver Sebastian Vettel drives his damaged car during the Bahrain Grand prix at the Bahrain International circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain March 31, 2019.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani   

I can’t get the notion out of my mind that these drying items of clothing are representative of the victims who were killed or had limbs dismembered during the Rwandan genocide. Brightly coloured shirts missing arms, trouser legs missing feet and necklines missing heads, Jean Bizimana’s picture haunts me. Read on more here

Laundry is aired to dry on the grass at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village built to rehabilitate children who lost their families in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in Rwamagana, eastern province of Rwanda April 1, 2019.  REUTERS/Jean Bizimana