The shocking cliché of a little Honduran girl in tears, her gaze turned to her mother searched by an agent at the US border, won Thursday the photo of the year award of the prestigious World Press Photo.
This image captured in June 2018 by John Moore, a Getty photographer, shows Sandra Sanchez and her daughter Yanela as they are apprehended by officers after illegally crossing the border between the United States and Mexico.
The judges felt that this cliché, which went around the world, illustrates “a violence of another type, which is psychological”.
Faced with the general turmoil created by the photo, the US Customs and Border Protection Service said Yanela and her mother were not among the thousands of migrants who were separated when they arrived in the United States.
“Nevertheless, the general outcry against this controversial practice led President Donald Trump to review his policy last June,” said the judges of the competition based in Amsterdam.
John Moore was photographing border services officers on the night of June 12, in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, when they arrested a group of people trying to cross the border.
“I could see the fear on their faces, in their eyes,” the photographer told an American radio.
He says he took the picture when Sandra Sanchez put the girl on the ground to be searched. The child started crying.
“I knelt down and had very little time before this moment was over,” said the 51-year-old photographer, who has been covering the border between the United States and Mexico for about a decade years.
“I wanted to tell another story,” he told AFP during the ceremony in Amsterdam.
“It was an opportunity for me to show an image of humanity that often only appears in statistics,” he added.
“I think a subject like this, immigration issues, resonates beyond the United States, all over the world,” he also told the hundreds of guests at the conference ceremony.
The sensitive issue of immigration was also highlighted Thursday in the category “World Press Photo Story of the Year Award” (Prize of the Year for a photo report).
The judges voted for a series of photographs taken in October 2018 by photographer Pieter Ten Hoope, which traces the journeys of many families who left Honduras in a caravan to travel to the United States.
These pictures “show a sense of dignity,” said one of the jury members.
This year, the judges selected the winners from some 78,800 images submitted by more than 4,730 photographers from around the world, according to organizers.
Three AFP photographers were rewarded in different categories.
Based in Kinshasa, John Wessels was ranked second and third in the “General News-Stories” category respectively for a series of snapshots of Congolese elections last year, and the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.
Brendan Smialowski and Pedro Pardo each took a third place, respectively for a photo of Donald Trump leading Emmanuel Macron by hand, and for a snapshot of migrants climbing the fence at the border between the United States and Mexico.