The Hague (AFP) – A searing image of a pregnant Ukrainian victim of a Russian strike on a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol won the 2023 World Press Photo of the Year award on Thursday.
The picture by Ukrainian photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka of the Associated Press news agency shows rescuers carrying Iryna Kalinina, 32, from the rubble of the hospital in the devastated port city.
Her baby Miron, named after the word for “peace”, was still-born after the strike on March 9, 2022. Kalinina, seen cradling her belly while lying on a stretcher, died half an hour later.
“The jury felt that this image captures the absurdity and horror of war,” the jury said in a comment as the picture was named as the winner at a ceremony in Amsterdam.
“It is an accurate representation of the year’s events and evidence of the war crimes being committed against Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces.”
Maloletka and his AP colleague video journalist Mstyslav Chernov spent nearly three weeks documenting the horrors of Mariupol at the start of Russian invasion.
“For me this image, it’s the image which I want to forget. But I couldn’t,” Maloletka said in a video released by World Press Photo.
“I hope that all the work that we did will somehow help people to understand. Maybe it will be used in a case against Russian war crimes.”
Moscow captured Mariupol last spring after a devastating siege.
In other global categories, Danish photographer Mads Nissen won the Story of the Year award for “The Price of Peace in Afghanistan, nine “haunting but beautiful” photos of life under the Taliban, for Politiken and Panos Pictures.
Nissen won the 2021 World Press Photo of the Year award for a photo of an embrace during the Covid pandemic.
Armenian photographer Anush Babajanyan took the Long-Term Project Award for “Battered Waters”, a series of pictures about water shortages in Central Asia for VII Photo and the National Geographic Society, while Egyptian photographer Mohamed Mahdy won the Open Format Award for “his images of a disappearing fishing village.