Eritrea man walks past building

Many congratulations to Matina Stevis and Joe Parkinson who last night won the prestigious Refugee Reporting Award at the One World Media Awards.

Their project was one of three outstanding nominated pieces shining a light on one story among 60 million.

That’s because today, 60 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes because of violence and conflict. 

We caught up with the nominees and asked them about their work.

Take a look and let us know which story was your favourite. 

Thousands Flee Isolated Eritrea To Escape Life Of Conscription and Poverty

By Matina Stevis and Joe Parkinson

Published by The Wall Street Journal 

couple lying down looking at mobile phone

“My previous focus was on the European refugee crisis.  I covered the migrant shipwreck at Lampedusa where 360 drowned. I interviewed the survivors, most of whom were overwhelmingly Eritrean (as were the victims).  This was the first time I was in touch with this specific group of refugees.

“They spoke about their country as a beautiful and wonderful place that they missed. This was very different to how those who are made refugees by the trauma of war speak about their homes.

“There has been a very subtle change of attitudes to Eritreans, especially in the UK.  The UK cut the number of Eritrean asylum seekers accepted from 77 per cent in the first quarter to 29 per cent of applicants in the second.

“Eritrea also has the biggest group of refugees who are unaccompanied minors.

“There was one moment, which features at the end of the piece with Henok, a boy of 11 who was very shy, tiny and the best student in his class at the refugee camp.

“On the back of a drawing he made of his mother back in Eritrea he wrote, “You are childless and I am not your son.”

“I found that this really affected me. This child, aged 11, seemed to have resigned himself to the fact that he would ever see his mother again.”

Words from Matina Stevis.

Calais Migrants: Life in the Jungle

By John Domokos

Published by The Guardian

“In the summer of 2015 there was an increase in the coverage of migrants in Calais.

“The camp had been there for a long time but the numbers were growing.

“ I didn’t like the tone of the coverage; it portrayed them as a threat to Britain rather than framing this as the humanitarian issue that it is.

“I wanted to cut against the portrayal of migrants as ‘swarms’. Many of these people are refugees escaping conflict.

“We featured eight-year-old Khalid and his mother. We wanted to show that these people were here as well as the men who had come there on their own, many of whom were young and traumatised by war.

“I think it’s important to close the gap between how people perceive migrants and refugees to be. These are ordinary people struggling to get by in extraordinary circumstances.”

 

Between Borders: American Migrant Crisis

By Craig and Brent Renaud

Published by The New York Times

“In 2014 there was a situation where seemingly out of the blue 90,000 young children from Central America turned up at boarder control and applied for asylum.

“It caught the Obama administration off guard; no one was prepared for it.

“These kids are fleeing a terrible life they live under dominant, prevalent and brutal gangs. On their journeys they face being robbed, kidnapped, raped or killed.

“They have no choice – if they stay they’ll be recruited by gangs  – it’s a life or death situation.

“They don’t know what they’re going to gain if they get to the U.S. they are just desperate to leave the situation that they’re in.

“We want to show people that these are kids just like your kids.

“Or as a teenager you should be finding your way in life not trying to survive and running away from somewhere where you don’t have the opportunity to survive.

“If it were you in this situation you would do the same thing, if these were your kids you want would the same.”

Words from Brent Renaud.

The Refugee Reporting Award is sponsored by the British Red Cross.

Photos © Matina Stevis & Nichole Sobecki