Turkish photojournalist of world-shaking picture of drowned Syrian toddler to receive UNCA award
Razi Cankligil – NEW YORKTurkish correspondent Nilüfer Demir, who photographed Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler who washed ashore on the Turkish coast in 2015, laying bare the tragedy of the Syrian civil war, has been named a gold medal winner for the memorial prize of the United Nations Correspondents Association.
Demir, a photographer-reporter for Doğan News Agency, was chosen for the Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize for written media alongside Deutsche Welle correspondent Martin Jay for her coverage of the incident. Demir is expected to receive her award on Dec. 16 at a ceremony in New York.
Demir’s camera captured the lifeless body of Kurdi, who washed ashore on a coast in the Bodrum district of the western province of Muğla in September 2015 after drowning in the Aegean Sea when a boat carrying a number of refugees capsized.
The widely shared picture of Kurdi prompted worldwide reaction and outcry among millions, who called on their leaders to act to prevent more deaths by offering concrete solutions to the refugee crisis and to take bolder actions and initiatives to fight the tragedy.
After the image was published in almost all major media outlets, Demir was honored with a number of national and international awards. The image has also had wide repercussions as millions of people demanded that their leaders find solutions to the refugee crisis.
Less than a year after the death of Kurdi, the EU and Turkey signed a breakthrough deal aimed at stopping the flow of refugees from Turkey to Greece. The deal took effect in March 20, and it stipulated that Turkey take back refugees who arrived in Greece after March 20.
In return, Europe pledged that for every Syrian deported, it would accept one refugee from Turkey’s vast camps, a move it hoped would discourage people from taking the fatal journey across the Aegean Sea.
Zimbabwean journalist Ray Mwareya was honored with the silver medal while Foreign Policy Magazine’s Ty McCormick of Kenya was awarded the bronze medal.
In addition to the Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize, UNCA also honors successful reporters and press members in three other categories, namely, the Ricardo Ortega Memorial Prize for broadcast media, the Prince Albert II of Monaco and UNCA Global Prize for coverage of climate change, as well as the United Nations Foundation Prize.