Belgian Laurent Van der Stockt wins international photojournalism honour

French photographer Laurent Van der Stockt (left) receives the Paris Match Visa d'Or award in the news category from Paris Match deputy director Regis Le Sommier on Sept 9, 2017.
French photographer Laurent Van der Stockt (left) receives the Paris Match Visa d'Or award in the news category from Paris Match deputy director Regis Le Sommier on Sept 9, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

PERPIGNAN, FRANCE (AFP) - Belgian photographer Laurent Van der Stockt was honoured Saturday (Sept 9) at photojournalism's biggest annual festival for his coverage of the battle of Mosul in Iraq for the French daily Le Monde.

Van der Stockt, 53, won the Visa d'Or for News, the most prestigious award handed out at the Visa Pour L'Image festival in Perpignan, south-western France.

The reporter won the same prize in 2013 for his work covering rebels in the war in Syria, when he witnessed a chemical weapons attack by Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The 2017 award honoured his work during the battle for Mosul - longest urban battle since Stalingrad - which he covered from the start to the bitter end, embedded with Iraqi special forces.

The prize recognised that this proximity to the fighting, the suicide attacks, and to terrified civilians gave his coverage a singular force.

After some 25 years of covering conflicts, Van der Stockt said that he had "never had access to a military operation for that long". He said the level of access he was given was "never or very, very rarely" granted to a correspondent.