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Mohammed Salem’s Award-Winning Photograph at World Press Photo 2024

Mohammed Salem is a Palestinian photographer who works for the news agency Reuters. In 2024, he won a very important award called the World Press Photo of the Year award.

The Award and the Winning Photo

  • The World Press Photo award is a prestigious international competition for photojournalists (photographers who capture news events).
  • Salem won for his extremely powerful photograph taken in Gaza on October 17, 2023.
  • The photo shows a Palestinian woman named Inas Abu Maamar, 36 years old, holding the dead body of her 5-year-old niece Saly.
  • Inas is crying and hugging Saly’s body which is wrapped in a white sheet. The photo was taken in a hospital morgue in Gaza after Israeli bombing.

Why the Photo Won

  • The judging committee said Salem’s photo was carefully composed (arranged) and showed deep respect for the tragic scene.
  • They felt the image gave both a literal and metaphorical (symbolic) look at the unimaginable loss and devastation caused by war, especially to innocent children.
  • The photo captures the harsh human impact and suffering that armed conflicts inflict on civilians.

Honouring Journalists in Conflict Zones

  • In announcing the award, organizers highlighted the risks journalists face when covering wars and violence.
  • An alarming 99 journalists were killed in 2023 while reporting on the fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.
  • Judges wanted to recognize the trauma and sacrifices made by photographers documenting these dangerous situations.

Salem’s Perspective

  • Salem, who is 39 years old, has worked for Reuters covering Gaza since 2003.
  • About his winning photo, he said: “People were confused, running around looking for loved ones after the bombing. This woman holding her dead niece’s body captured what was happening.”
  • He hopes the award and publishing this image globally will make people more aware of the innocent lives lost in war.

The World Press Photo competition had over 61,000 entries from 3,851 photographers across 130 countries in 2024. Salem’s haunting yet respectful photograph gave a window into the devastation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a singularly heart-wrenching scene of grief.

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