Haunting image of migrants wins award

The image, titled "Hope for a new life", highlights Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II.
The image, titled "Hope for a new life", highlights Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II.PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM • A haunting black-and-white image of a refugee passing a baby under a barbed wire fence won the World Press Photo Award on Thursday, highlighting Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II.

Snapped by Australian freelance photographer Warren Richardson, the picture titled "Hope for a new life" captures the drama of one crossing on the Serbo-Hungarian border, as more than a million people made their way to Europe's shores last year - nearly half of them fleeing Syria's brutal civil war.

Judges in this year's competition - which drew some 82,951 entries from 5,775 photographers from 128 countries - called Mr Richardson's grainy picture, taken in the dead of night without a flash "incredibly powerful visually" and a "haunting image".

Mr Richardson, who is based in Budapest, had camped with a group of migrants for five days on the Serbo-Hungarian border near Roszke when he snapped the group as they slipped through the boundary fence. "We played cat-and-mouse with the police the whole night," he said in a statement from the World Press Photo Awards.

"It was around three o'clock in the morning and you can't use a flash while police are trying to find these people, because I would just give them away," he said, adding that he shot his image using the light of the moon.

Agence France-Presse photo director Francis Kohn, who chaired this year's jury in The Hague, said Mr Richardson's picture "had such power because of its simplicity, especially the symbolism of the barbed wire".

"We thought it had almost everything in there to give a strong visual of what's happening with the refugees," Mr Kohn said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Haunting image of migrants wins award'. Print Edition | Subscribe