Dec 28, 2010

UNICEF Photo of the Year Award 2010

Each year, UNICEF Germany grants the “UNICEF Photo of the Year Award” to photos and photo series that best depict the personality and living conditions of children all around the world.


The Vietnam war ended in 1975. The US withdrew their troops and north and south Vietnam were reunited. But for the Vietnamese people the legacy of American warfare continues. US forces used the herbicide Agent Orange to destroy foliage that the north Vietnamese were using as cover. Agent Orange contains dioxins that are known to cause cancer and damage genes. The effects of the toxic substance can be seen among Vietnamese people to this day, such as cancer, immune disorders and severe deformities. According to official estimates, 1.2 million children, including nine-year-old Nguyen Thi Ly, are disabled. In rural areas, the percentage of disabled children is significantly higher than in urban areas.

Photo: Ed Kashi/Agency VII/UNICEF Photo of the Year 2010


Afghanistan’s past: Soviet invasion in 1978, outbreak of the civil war. Consequence: refugees. Withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, mujahideen take Kabul. Outbreak of yet another civil war. Consequence: refugees. Overthrow of the Taliban regime after 9/11 by an alliance lead by the US. Bloody internal struggles. Consequence: refugees. Afghanistan’s future: despite uncertain circumstances, approx. 4 million refugees have returned from Pakistan and Iran and now are trying to settle down again in their home country.

Among these refugees was the family of 8-year-old Akram. They looked for shelter in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. Even as a small boy, Akram tried to make some money by collecting scrap on a garbage dump in Peshawar. While rummaging through the garbage, he once accidentally touched a non-insulated cable. Both his hands and arms had to be amputated because of severe burns. In the meantime, Akram’s family has returned to Kabul where he received arm prostheses thanks to the help of the International Red Cross. Looking at the pictures taken by Iranian photographer Majid Saeedi, we are astonished by the natural way the children treat each other and their compassion for each other. Majid Saeedi has also captured the playful ease shown by healthy children when handling these ‘spare body parts’. The horrible realization of being severely disabled for one’s whole life, however, only sets in when people get older. And this realization is cruel because it’s final.

Photo: Majid Saeedi, Iran, Getty Images


Bangladesh: The oldest profession in the world destroys the lives of young girls

There is no exact data on the number of child prostitutes worldwide. According to cautious estimates by UNICEF, approx. 1.8 million children and adolescents worldwide are abused through prostitution.
Bangladesh-based photographer, G.M.B. Akash, shows the plight of these child prostitutes, some of whom are extremely young. He grew ever more horrified at the hopeless situation of these young girls in the brothels of the Faridpur region when he heard what they had to do to their bodies to appear older and more attractive. Every day over many years they take a steroid to ‘plump up’. It is the same drug that is also used in countries like Bangladesh to fatten cattle. It was originally intended for use by seriously ill patients suffering from arthritis, asthma or allergies.
20-year-old Yasmin also has a puffy face because of the steroid. She has lived in this brothel since she was a child – just like her mother, who worked here as a prostitute for 30 years.

 Photo: GMB Akash, Panos Pictures