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Award-winning photo from a report produced in Afghanistan in 2019 - 2020
The 28th edition of the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award – a prize created to pay homage to the work of war correspondents – is being held until October 10. Agence Française de Développement, which is committed to peace-building in regions that are fragile or affected by conflict and crisis, is participating in this event for the eighth consecutive year.

Since the emergence of Covid-19, international news has tended to focus on the pandemic. Yet, wars and conflicts continue, and journalists continue to sacrifice their lives to inform us.

In the week ending October 10, the city of Bayeux, in partnership with the Calvados department and the Normandy region, is honoring the top French and foreign special correspondents with the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award. The annual event, held in the first city liberated in France in 1944, consists of a week of exhibitions, film screenings, and discussions on the world’s upheavals. 

Telling the story of war

As a partner of this event, AFD will present the People’s Choice Award on October 9. “AFD Group works to consolidate peace in areas that are fragile or undergoing crisis or conflict,” says Jean-Bertrand Mothes, Head of AFD’s Fragility, Crisis and Conflict Division. “The work done by the correspondents who are the recipients of this award is therefore essential, as it informs us about what’s going on in those areas and sheds light on the living conditions of the people there.” 

At the award ceremony, AFD will present the “Karama (Dignity), Hand-in-hand to (re)build the future” exhibition by Ammar Abd Rabbo, a French photographer of Syrian origin. He is familiar with the places where AFD works and has been moved by the Karama project in more ways than one: “The Syrian crisis is one of the most serious crises since the end of World War II,” said Abd Rabbo. “Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are all conflict zones that I know very well. I’ve covered conflicts, uprisings, bombings. So it’s obviously interesting for me to go back to those places to cover the actions—like the building of a hospital or the opening of a dispensary or a school—carried out to respond to those tragedies.” The Karama exhibition offers an optimistic view of these regions of the world.

High-risk photos

This week’s exhibition covers conflicts that are in the news (some more than others), the profession of the war correspondent, and news events of the past year. Following last year’s spotlight on the Sahel, this edition focuses on the conflict in Syria. As Jean-Bertrand Mothes notes, “This year, many of the discussions will focus on the bleak tenth anniversary of the outbreak of the Syrian conflict.” The Special Correspondents, the civil society of multimedia authors evening will be dedicated to this topic. 

“It’s important to know that, if no action is taken, more than 80% of the world’s poorest people will be living in fragile situations by 2030. That’s why it’s essential to support these conflict zones by not leaving anyone out, and by making sure they are reported in the news,” said Jean-Bertrand Mothes. “And that’s why AFD Group has taken part in the Bayeux Award every year for the past eight years.”

At the closing ceremony on the evening of Saturday, October 9, awards will be given to the winners in various categories of reporting, including photography, television, radio, and written press. This year’s jury will be chaired by the Franco-Iranian photographer Manoocher Deghati. Nearly 350 journalists are expected to attend.