Landmine Legacy

CompanyPanos Pictures
PhotographerHossein Fatemi
PrizePress / People/Personality
Entry Description

Landmine Legacy Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.The Soviet occupation of the country from 1979 until the final withdrawal in 1989 saw the urban centres controlled by Soviet troops and Soviet-backed militia, locked in constant low-intensity warfare with various groups of Mujahadeen fighters. Land mines were deployed widely by both sides and hidden in every conceivable terrain. Roads, electricity pylons, bridges and abandoned houses were all heavily mined. Even the country's largest dam, Kajakai, and the pylons linking the dam to Kandahar, the country's second city, were mined. Today, vast swathes of the country remain littered with an assortment of mines - from anti-personnell to anti-tank mines. Kabul is still the most heavily mined capital city in the world Land mines kill or maim on average around 65 people per month. Recent fighting between coalition forces and Taliban fighters in the South of the country have brought a new set of mines - mainly handmade - into circulation. While opium poppy cultivation, a traditional mainstay of Afghan farming, can succeed on semi-arid terrain, large tracts of fertile land are too dangerous to farm which has caused wide-spread depopulation of the countryside. Hossein Fatemi, who has been based in Afghanistan since having to leave his native Iran following the disputed presidential elections in 2009, visited one of the numerous ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) centres that deal with land-mine related injuries in Herat and photographed some of the patients. We asked Hossein to describe what made him decide to photograph the subjects in his pictures. I made a story about these people in 2009, but that story was about their treatment.This time I spoke with the manager of the clinic and asked to be allowed to put up the black curtain so I could concentrate on the peoples' expressions, and nothing else. When I asked them for their names and backgrounds many were happy since they thought I wanted to help them financially with their surgery and treatment. Once I started shooting they mostly enjoyed the experience and became interested in the process. They liked the black background because it made them stand out and they felt like heroes.

About Photographer

Hossein Fatemi, is an Iranian Photographer, born in 1980. He started photography since 1997 and he got the title “Photographer of the Year” by the board of Iranian Photojournalists for three years -2006, 2007, and 2009. His works have been published in numerous national and international journals including Times, Newsweek, Paris Mach, New York Times, Guardian, and Washington Post. He has worked in Lebanon, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Russia, India and Afghanistan. In addition of his 32 awards which he won inside Iran, he is accredited with a list of many respected international awards amongst which are the Silver medal from Delaware Photographic Society in 2006, Gold medal of Asahi Shimbun International Competition in 2005 and 2006, and China International Photojournalism contest in 2007 as well as in 2009. In 2009 he has scooped prizes at the second edition of the International Virtual FC Quilmes photography festival in Chile where he has received the “Photographic Society of America (PSA)” Gold Medal and honorable mention at the ceremonies. He have worked with, Farsnews Agency,Zuma Press, United Press International, EPA (European Pressphoto Agency), Associated Press and working currently with Panos Pictures. Hossein is living and based in Kabul after the 2009’s disputed presidential election of Iran.