Aris Messinis: Lesbos migrant crisis photos win French award

BBC News : A Greek photographer has won the Visa d’Or news photography prize for his coverage of the mass arrival of migrants on the island of Lesbos last year.

"Aris Messinis: Award-Winning Photos of the Lesbos Migrant Crisis"
Image by Jess Foami from Pixabay

Aris Messinis worked for the French news agency AFP and has won prizes before for images taken in war zones.

He said he never thought he would cover this in his own country.

Notably, he has at times stepped out from behind the lens and helped the people he saw in difficulty.

A witness, who observed him carrying a refugee child to safety from the sea, took one photograph that earned him acclaim on social media.

Mr Messinis said

there was no conflict of interest between photographing and rescuing and it was a “normal human reflex”.

“We try to keep our distance, to be objective,” he said.

“But sometimes it is good to lend a hand to somebody who needs a hand. It is a personal decision.”

The work is on display in Perpignan in southern France.

The Visa d’Or for news is considered the most prestigious award handed out at the Visa Pour L’Image festival.

At its peak, Lesbos witnessed a daily arrival of 7,000 migrants, with many perishing at sea.

In 2016, the EU and Turkey reached a deal to return seaborne migrants to Turkey in exchange for Syrian refugees who had followed official application processes.

A note on terminology: (Aris Messinis)

The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. Syrian refugees are classified as refugees, while those seeking better lives are seen as economic migrants.

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