Narciso Contreras

Libye : Plaque tournante du trafic humain

7ème édition

Prix Carmignac du photojournalisme

Six years after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in October 2011, Libya is experiencing an unprecedented political, military and humanitarian crisis. The Government of National Accord, created under the aegis of the UN, has not yet managed to exercise its authority, and violent fighting between militias and rival factions keeps breaking out in the territory on a daily basis. The surge of hope that followed the revolution has now given way to chaos.

The Carmignac Photojournalism Award decided to support an in-depth research project in this country where little to no images are currently being taken and published.

Contreras lays bare an unfolding humanitarian crisis in which illegal migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are at the mercy of militias who exploit them for financial gain. Held in detention centres for illegal migrants, they are subjected to inhumane conditions including overcrowding, lack of sanitation and vicious beatings.

Throughout this report, Contreras weaves a compelling narrative to show how, instead of being a place of transit for migrants on their way to Europe, Libya has actually become a trafficking market where people are bought and sold on a daily basis.

Garabuli, mars 2016 © Narciso Contreras pour la Fondation Carmignac
Surman, juin 2016 © Narciso Contreras pour la Fondation Carmignac – TOP 100 PHOTOS OF 2016 by TIME

The Laureate

Narciso Contreras is an award winning documentary photographer born in Mexico City in 1975.

Since 2010 he has been covering a variety of issues and topics in
Southern Asia and the Middle East, leading him to focus his work on the
humanitarian cost of conflicts, economics and wars. His work aims to
contribute to building a visual memory of the world he sees.

His studies in philosophy, photography and visual anthropology led him to live and study in a monastery in India while photographing religious communities. Since then, Narciso has photographed under reported issues like the ethnic war in Myanmar and the forgotten war in Yemen, as well as some of the major current events, such as the political upheavals in Istanbul, the conflict in Gaza, the military coup in Egypt, the war in Syria and the tribal conflict in Libya.

Narciso’s work in Syria was awarded one of the Pulitzer Prizes in 2013, and received recognition in Pictures of the Year International. He has contributed to magazines and media outlets around the globe including TIME magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times. He also has contributed to non-governmental organizations like MSF (Doctors Without Borders).

He is currently photographing the migrants’ crisis in North Africa as part of a long-term project of documentation based on the worldwide conceived phenomenon of a “massive human displacement.

Narciso Contreras © Gerardo Castillo
Images from the report were selected in TIME’s Top 100 Photos of the Year 2016

“Since 2014, the Award team is the logistical intermediary of the laureate on the ground. We work with consultants, logistics partners, fact-checkers, and Non-Governmental Organisations to be able to provide in real time all the tools needed to make the investigation possible and to help Narciso Contreras orient himself in a country bordering with chaos.”

Emeric glayse, directeur du prix carmignac du photojournalisme
Surman, juin 2016 © Narciso Contreras pour la Fondation Carmignac

Libye, plaque tournante du trafic humain

At the start of 2016, Narciso Contreras started documenting the crisis.

He worked on the hypothesis that the country was a transit destination for migrants trapped in a country fighting a tribal civil war. Rich in oil, minerals and natural resources, Libya is home to tribespeople with long-standing grudges, who battle each other for control of the country and its purse strings. Migrants passing through their land have become the latest currency.

What he found, during three trips made to the region from February to June, would allow Contreras to tell a story that previously had gone untold. Stories about detention centres and the trafficking market had been documented, but fear of repercussions and the difficulty of gaining access to detention centres meant that the information was always shut down.


In pursuit of his story, Contreras would be passed from office to office, grappling with surreal bureaucracy, in an attempt to verify the official line of the Libyan government.

Officials stated that they were tackling the crisis, but that they were swamped and needed international help.

All attempts by Contreras to confirm this failed. Instead, Contreras concluded that, far from resolving it, Libyan authorities were running, and profiting from, the trafficking of human beings.

Mapping of cities visited, roads (in red) and ports (in green) of migrant trafficking
Zawiyah, juin 2016 © Narciso Contreras pour la Fondation Carmignac

The Jury

Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Patrick Baz, Founder of the Photodesk for the Middle East and North Africa,
Agence France Presse

Reza, Photojournalist

Janine di Giovanni, Editor-in-chief for the Middle East, Newsweek

Thierry Grillet, Chief Curator, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF)

Mikko Takkunen, Photo Editor, The New York Times

Christophe Gin, Laureate of the 6th Carmignac Photojournalism Award

Al Toum, mars 2016 © Narciso Contreras pour la Fondation Carmignac


  Evénement terminé

Hôtel de l’Industrie de Paris

4 Place Saint Germain des Prés 75006 Paris
Evénement terminé

Palazzo Reale, Milan

Piazza del Duomo, 12, Milan
Evénement terminé

Saatchi Gallery, Londres

Duke of York’s HQ King’s Rd, Chelsea, Londres


Libya : A Human Marketplace

Co-published par : Skira/ Fondation Carmignac
Date of release : November 7th 2016
Contributors : Narciso Contreras
Price : 35 euros, 45 USD, 58 CAD, 35 GBP

L’Oeil de la Photographie

“Le photojournaliste tisse un récit captivant soulignant comment, au lieu d’être un endroit de transit pour les migrants en route vers l’Europe, la Libye est en réalité devenue une place forte du trafic d’êtres humains où les gens sont quotidiennement achetés et vendus.”

Le Figaro Béatrice de Rochebouët

“C’est un petit miracle si Narciso a réussi à nous ramener ces images à la limite parfois du supportable […] Les images et vidéos sont saisissantes tels ces sacs plastique étalés sur la plage comme si de rien n’était. Mais sous chacun gît un corps.”

Télérama Sortir  TTT

“Atroce drame humain contemporain, indigne et dont personne ne semble s’émouvoir, enfin révélé par Narciso Contreras, qui s’est courageusement infiltré au cœur de ce réseau. Du grand reportage. Rare.”

Autres lauréats

Narciso Contreras