AFPTV journalist wins UK award for Syria war coverage

18th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

An AFPTV video journalist from Syria, Zein Al-Rifai, won an award for his coverage of the conflict in Aleppo on Wednesday from Britain's Rory Peck Trust, which campaigns for freelancers around the world.

Al-Rifai, 28, a former opposition activist, has been covering the daily lives of people living in the rebel-held part of Aleppo.

In August 2015, he was seriously injured while covering fighting between rebels and government forces north of Aleppo.

Al-Rifai was not able to attend Wednesday's ceremony because he was not able to obtain a visa.

"Given the fact that most of the international media is no longer sending reporters to war zones in Syria for security considerations, the role freelancers like Zein play in conveying to the world the reality of the Syrian tragedy is invaluable," AFP's Global News Director Michele Leridon said.

"Zein and his colleagues work courageously in very dangerous conditions to document the atrocities of the war and we are very proud to see his work recognised through this prestigious award."

Al-Rifai is a co-founder of the Aleppo Media Center.

His friends and colleagues taught him how to use a video camera. Since then, he has worked as a stringer for several international media including AFP, to which he regularly contributes.

Judges described Al-Rifai's work as "stunning" and "up-close and personal".

"Aleppo is so difficult to get stories out of - and here was material that really caught the everyday - boys swimming in a bomb-crater swimming pond, children at a party," the judges said.

"To have the eye and courage to film that shows a really intelligent film-maker," they said.

Fellow AFP stringer Yahya Hassouna, nominated for his work on the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in summer 2014, was another finalist for the news category of the Rory Peck Awards.

The third was former French paratrooper Olivier Sarbil for his coverage of the Ukraine conflict.

Launched in 1995 by the Rory Peck Trust, the prize recognises the best freelance cameramen and women.

The trust was set up in memory of freelance cameraman Rory Peck from Northern Ireland, who was shot and killed while covering the armed confrontation during Russia's constitutional crisis in 1993.

It is the only organisation dedicated to the support, safety and welfare of freelance news-gatherers around the world.

"Without the work of freelancers, our understanding of the world suffers. They deserve our recognition, support and protection," the Trust's director, Tina Carr, said in a statement.

© 2015 AFP

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