Democratic Republic of Congo
Carmignac Photojournalism Award
The 11th Carmignac Photojournalism Award — which focuses this year on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — was awarded to Finbarr O’Reilly.
O’Reilly’s reportage started in January but, due to the swiftly worsening global health situation and the gradual closing of international borders, he and the Award team, plus members of the jury and the pre-jury for the 11th edition, re-conceived their approach and adapted the reportage to better cover the crisis we are experiencing.
With this in mind, the Carmignac Foundation is honored to present “Congo in Conversation” by Finbarr O’Reilly. It’s a collaborative online chronicle which, through close cooperation with Congolese journalists and photographers (as well as journalists of other nationalities based in the DRC), will address the human, social and ecological challenges that the Congo faces today with this new health crisis.
Relaying information via a dedicated website and social networks, «Congo in Conversation» will provide an uninterrupted and unprecedented stream of articles, photo reportages and videos. Updated regularly, it will enable readers to discover how the DRC is coping with this crisis and adapting to the realities that now shape all of our lives.
Finbarr O’Reilly is an independent photographer and multimedia journalist, and the author of the nonfiction memoir, Shooting Ghosts, A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War.
He is the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize exhibition photographer and a frequent contributor to The New York Times. His photography and multimedia work has earned numerous industry honors, including First Place in the Portraits category at the 2019 World Press Photo Awards. He was also winner of the World Press Photo of the Year in 2006. Finbarr lived for twelve years in West and Central Africa and has spent two decades covering conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya, and Gaza.
He has held academic fellowships at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia University and is a board member of ACOS Alliance, an organization working to embed a culture of safety across newsrooms and for freelance and local journalists worldwide. Finbarr lived in Congo and Rwanda from 2001-2004 and has returned often over the past twenty years.
In 2019, he spent months reporting from inside
the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history while producing the documentary film Ebola In Congo for PBS. The film tells the stories of local health workers
risking their lives to battle Ebola in a region devastated by decades of conflict.
Finbarr is among those profiled in Under Fire: Journalists in Combat, a documentary film about the psychological costs of covering war. The film won a 2013 Peabody Award and was shortlisted for a 2012 Academy Award.
Congo in Conversation
The 11th Carmignac Photojournalism Award project will explore — with cautious optimism — the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo, documenting the harsh realities and challenges that have impeded progress in this long-exploited country. Within the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the project is turning its attention to how the Congolese are coping with the worst global health crisis in a century — in
addition to managing the second-deadliest Ebola epidemic in history and the world’s deadliest measles outbreak.
American hospitals and European villages are currently on the front lines of the global pandemic. But epidemiologists and public health experts say the coronavirus will soon spread south, engulfing low-income nations already plagued by fraying health-care systems, fragile governments, and impoverished populations for whom social distancing is nearly impossible.
According to the UN, nearly half of all workers throughout the African continent could lose their jobs. Citizens of poor nations living under weak or repressive governments are at particular risk of finding themselves at the bottom of the global scramble for scarce resources like medicines and ventilators. Meanwhile, another virus — measles — is already ravaging the country. Since January 2019,
more than 6,500 children have died from the disease and 335,000 others have been infected, according to the latest World Health Organization data.
This is unfolding in a country still at war with itself, where dozens of armed groups regularly clash in Congo’s eastern provinces, and where a shadowy militia is responsible for massacring hundreds of civilians over the past few months alone.
There is a silver lining for Congo, however. The country is in a unique position to respond to yet another viral outbreak, having also dealt with the second-worst Ebola epidemic in history — spanning 3,453 cases and 2,273 deaths — over the past 18 months. This crisis means that Congolese officials adhere closely to advice from the WHO. As seen internationally, an early response is critical in containing the virus.
On March 24, President Tshisekedi declared a countrywide state of emergency and shut down national borders to limit infections. Already accustomed to the measures that prevent the spread of viral infections, the country has maintained
essential health practices.
Much of the country is on lockdown, but millions of Congolese rely on the informal economy to survive and live life on the margins with little to no social safety net. Many are without running water or
electricity, although the government has promised free electricity and water during the pandemic. Still, the notion of social distancing is impossible to apply when many Congolese sleep in rooms or settlements crammed with people.
Simon Baker Director, Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP)
Maryline Baumard Editor-in-Chief, Le Monde Afrique
Comfort Ero Africa Program Director, International Crisis Group
Meaghan Looram Director of Photography, The New York Times
Julienne Lusenge President of Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development and Director of FFC
Fiona Shields Director of Photography, The Guardian
Tommaso Protti Laureate of the 10th Edition of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award