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Our photographer is a finalist in the most prestigious photography award for his reporting in Chad, thanks to the readers of ilgiornale.it

When writing the words World Press Photo, you instantly think of the highest standards in photography. The award, given since 1955 by the Dutch foundation of the same name, serves to recognise the best pieces of photography taken around the world.

With candidates submitting photos from all across globe, photojournalists from every continent were amongst the competition, with almost 80 thousand pieces submitted for jury consideration. Then came the fateful day when the final nominees were announced.

Just a few hours ago the names of this year’s best photographers from around the released, of those who through their images were able to convey the world’s most important events, incredible stories, and the greatest tragedies of the year just past. The jury for the World Press Photo announced the winners, and among the 43 names listed was Italian native Marco Gualazzini.

Born in Parma in 1976, the photojournalist has been recognised in the Environment category for his photo report on Chad, which was made possible thanks to the support of readers of both ilgiornale.it and Gli Occhi della Guerra. On the 11th of April, the date of awarding for the overall winner of the World Press Photo, the full report of the trip will be published on Gli Occhi della Guerra and, following this, on InsideOver.com, the new English version of the ilGiornale.it’s reporting project.

Furthermore, his shots were additionally nominated among the six photos of the year and the story itself was nominated among the three stories of the year.

Gualazzini since last year has constantly and continuously followed the main events affecting the African continent, in particular the events of the humanitarian crisis. His reports (HERE), many which were made possible thanks to the sustained support of our readers, were shot across numerous sub-Saharan countries including Somalia, Nigeria, Sundan, the Congo, Chad and were published by numerous major national and international newspapers. He has also released a photography book titled Resilient, published by Contrasto, which provides a collection of his most important shots from his ten years of reporting in Africa.

After hearing the news he had been given this prestigious photojournalism award, Gualazzini expressed how: “The World Press Photo award for a photographer is representative of an aspiration, but also of a new beginning. It’s an important, modern experience with two sides. On the one hand I feel personally excited, and on the other proud and flattered to have received this recognition, but at the same time it leads me to feel a little uneasy. In photojournalism the authorship of a photo should almost be irrelevant and forgotten. We are celebrating photographers, but I fear that this attention detracts from the subjects themselves. The protagonists should always be the people immortalised within these images.”

Gualazzini goes on to speak about his photograph being nominated amongst the six best for the entire year for the portrayal of an almajiri, an orphan walking in front of a wall on which children have painted RPG rocket launchers in charcoal, he explains: “The almajiri are child orphans, predominantly Nigerian refugees, that live in groups around the city of Sahel and begging on the street during the day, staying all together wrapping themselves in worn jalabie, clinging onto the only thing they have: with their bowls, they beg for a loaf of bread or few coins. I met these Nigerian Almajiri mainly in Chad and was struck by the way these abandoned children were able to derive such strength from the groups they lived in. Looking at them as they walked in front of that wall where they had drawn those rocket launchers was hauntingly poignant. They had drawn these weapons because it is the only reality that they know. It is a sad reality that for these children in Chad, everyday life is represented only by war. This is the story of the selected photo.”

The Parmesan photojournalist spoke also about the written story, also nominated as one of the three best stories of the year. “The story on the crisis in Chard is part of my journalistic journey. After many years of work with journalist Daniele Bellocchio, we had decided to cover the crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. Our work is one of continuous comparison, allowing for the exchange of mutual ideas and to continuously compare them. It was he who first proposed the idea of doing a report on the Lake Chad crisis. Daniele had found the story, proposed it to me, and I was convinced, we knew this was important and organised our journey. Chad is a totalitarian country where the world’s most pressing modern tragedies are evident and plain to see: climate change that fuels the activities of jihadist terrorism, while the combination of these factors in turn result in the generation of refugees and ever more dire humanitarian crises. It is an endless stream of tragedy that simply must be denounced.”

The words of the photographer were echoed by his fellow journalist Daniel Bellocchio: “I have been working with Gualazzini for several years now, and I can only say that I am extremely proud of him for winning this award. It is rightful recognition for for Marco’s dedication, commitment, perseverance and skill. I am also happy that the award recognises the work we have dedicated so much time to. Upon arriving in Chad we immediately felt that it would be necessary to further deepen our reporting in order to truly reveal what is happening along the banks of Lake Chad, a geographical area of huge journalistic importance. The fact that Gualazzini’s photos were victorious has brought further attention to this ongoing tragedy in the heart of the Sahel, which for too long has not received the global media attention it deserves.”

Words of commendation and incredible satisfaction were also forthcoming from Andrea Pontini, managing director of ilGiornale.it and co-founder of Gli Occhi della Guerra: “I, along with everyone that works for me, have shared the same dream: that one of our photographer for Gli Occhi della Guerra would win the World Press Photo. This dream has at last been realised. We are so happy and can only congratulate Marco Gualazzini and Daniele Bellocchio, as their work is a true testament to their extraordinary photos and for the teamwork that Marco and Daniele have been engaged in for years now, and always in an extremely professional manner. I must also mention the whole Gli Occhi della Guerra team: this World Press award is indicative of the passion and enthusiasm of the whole team.