MSF photographers win in 2001 World Press Competition

In the 2001 World Press Photo competition, photographers working in the field for MSF have won awards in two different categories. Stephan Vanfleteren, of Belgium, has won the Children's Jury prize for his work in Afghanistan. Harald Henden, of Norway, has won the First Prize in the Science and Technology Singles category for an image taken in the Murray Camp in Freetown, Sierra Leone where MSF works with victims of forced amputations.

The exhibit is currently at the European Parliament, Brussels and opened there on November 6.

Last year Harald Henden also received the Children's Jury Prize.

The Children's Award is given by a jury of children who view the collection of photos selected by the competition jury and then choose the one image they like the most.

The World Press Photo is an independent, non-profit organisation founded in the Netherlands in 1955 and supports and promotes the work of professional press photographers internationally. The competition is the largest, and considered the most prestigous, press photography competition in the world. The exhibit is shown in more than 35 countries worldwide and seen by over one million people.

Harald HendenA man and a child embrace in Murray Camp, Freetown, in Sierra Lone. The camp is supported by Médecins Sans Frontières and functions specifically to help amputees. Thousands of civilians have had their limbs cut off by rebel fighters in the course of Sierra Leone's civil war. The camp helps teach victims how to fit artificial limbs and how to be as independent as possible.

This image, taken by Harald Henden in 2001 at the MSF camp for amputees in Sierra Leone, was the winner of the Science and Technology First Prize in the 2001 World Press Photo competition.

Each year, MSF offices worldwide commissions photographers for visits to our operations. Often these photographers are the only ones in the field and they provide essential documentation not only of MSF work but also the living environment and social conditions of the people MSF assist. Their intent is to gather images that best represent both the work MSF is doing on in the field as well as present a sense of the life and conditions faced by the people there.

The image by Stephan Vanfleteren, taken in Afghanistan in November 2000, has been used on all the posters promoting the event throughout Belgium. This was the first time he had been specifically requested for a project for the organisation.

Interview with Stephan Vanfleteren

"MSF asked me to go there as there were problems with a drought and cholera. Children were dying of starvation, cold, sickness and famine," said Stephan Vanfleteren.

"The refugee camps there are filled with people who come from everywhere because they have nothing to eat. They are just looking fo a place to get medical help and something to eat.

"I was prepared for the trip. There was a reason why I was sent. But even if you are prepared, you see children dying and that is always a shock There was a family where two children died in one night - one stupid, cold night. And then they were buried the next day. And this family with four children, now they only have two."

When Vanfleteren returned home, the media interest in his images was slight. The situation in Afghanistan was considered old and had no immediate relevance or impact in the traditional media that focuses on current events.

"There was a little interest. But there has already been 22 years of fighting and war there. And now the newspapers are all asking for Afghanistan images."