Two Indian photographers win first and second prizes

For the 22nd year in a row, UNICEF Germany organized the international UNICEF Photo of the Year competition. It honors photos and photo sets by professional photojournalists who exceptionally document children’s personalities and circumstances. To participate in the competition, photographers must be nominated by an internationally renowned photography expert. An independent jury chose the winner of the “UNICEF Photo of the Year”. For more information, visit

The winning photo: Drowned hopes (INDIA)

UNICEF Photo of the Year

Following a tropical cyclone, the water in the Ganges delta overflowed. The floods washed away the small tea shop that 12-year-old Pallavi Paduya and her family ran on Namkhana Island. And with him all their livelihood. Indian photographer Supratim Bhattacharjee met the girl in 2020 a day after the disaster, standing in the ruins of her life.

For the inhabitants of the Sundarbans, a coastal region of India and Bangladesh, it is part of the painful experience that entire villages are swept away, that islands gradually sink in and the children’s path to school passes. by knee-deep waters. The continued destruction of mangrove forests, rising sea levels and the salinization of former freshwater areas deprive families of their livelihoods. UNICEF estimates that around 530 million children in Asia and Africa are growing up in areas affected by flooding.

The second prize: a small but big victory over the pandemic (INDIA)

UNICEF Photo of the Year
UNICEF Photo of the Year | Unicef

Their locked classrooms and online learning more fancy than reality due to lack of internet connection or because their parents cannot afford cell phones and laptops. For millions of girls and boys, the coronavirus pandemic has meant no school at all, often for months at a time. Thanks to the initiative of Indian teacher Deep Narayan Nayak, who moved the school from his village outside and turned the walls of houses into blackboards, local girls and boys were able to continue learning. Indian photographer Sourav Das has captured scenes from the everyday life of this exceptionally creative and adorable village school. According to UNICEF, 1.6 billion children were unable to attend school at the height of the global lockdown.

The third prize: Open wounds

UNICEF Photo of the Year
UNICEF Photo of the Year | Unicef

If a father has no more arms, if the war has taken his legs, what does that mean for his children? Some of the Kurdish girls and boys in Iraq portrayed by photographer Younes Mohammad are still babies. In some cases, they are just too young to be traumatized by the scars of war, but they are already part of the story of their fathers, who fought terrorists from the Islamic State (IS), were maimed by mines, snipers or in open battle. Mohammad portrayed the great strength of children when it comes to facing the fate of their families, accepting the handicaps of their fathers, loving and smiling.

The jury also awarded honorable mentions to nine other photographic series:

UNICEF Photo of the Year |  Unicef
UNICEF Photo of the Year | Unicef

* Ali Haj Suleiman, Syria, photo series: War shells (Syria)

* Emily Garthwaite, UK, photo series: Children of Zagros (Iran)

* EmekeObanor, Nigeria, photo series: The joy of learning (Nigeria)

* Feli and Pepita von Ehrenfeld, Germany, series of photos: Thoughts of containment (Germany, Switzerland, Singapore)

* Gordon Welters, Germany, photo series: Two hearts for Clara (Germany)Jörg Volland, Germany, photo series: Brave little butterfly (Germany)

* Matilde Simas, USA, photo series: Bringing mobility to children with limb loss (Philippines, Ethiopia, Haiti)

* Natalya Saprunova, Russia / France, photo series:Uliana, coming from the cold (Russia)

* Toby Binder, Germany, photo series: Being poor in Duisburg (Germany)

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