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ICRC announces winners of “Young Reporter” competition

19-11-2010 News Release 10/213

Geneva (ICRC) – Eight outstanding young people have been chosen as the winners and runners-up of the International Committee of the Red Cross’ “Young Reporter” competition, which was launched in August as part of the International Year of Youth.

The aim of the project is to give young adults a chance to speak out on today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges and better understand how armed conflict and violence affect young lives.

The ICRC received almost 500 applications from people aged between 18 and 25 from every continent. The unexpected volume of entries resulted in a delay of the announcement of the winners, which was due to take place on 1 November. “We were overwhelmed by the response we got. In fact, we wound up creating three runner-up positions because the finalist entries were all so impressive,” said Nicole Martins-Maag, the head of the ICRC's youth project. “In general, we were blown away by the diversity and skills of all of the applicants, as well as their keen interest in raising awareness of problems affecting other young people.”

The winners are: Felipe Jácome, a 25-year-old freelance photojournalist based in Ecuador, Amandine Colin, a 22-year-old photojournalist from Belgium, Mariel García Montes, a 20-year-old philosophy student from Mexico, Jeremy Boo, a 21-year-old independent documentary maker and campaigner from Singapore, and Polly Fields, a 25-year-old journalist from Britain.

The runners-up are: Winston Daryoue, a 23-year-old radio news editor from Liberia, Sana Masood, a 24-year-old law graduate from Pakistan, and Amanda Brinegar, an 18-year-old American high school graduate who is doing a year abroad in Senegal.

Qualified entries had to include an article, photo essay, video or radio piece examining a humanitarian challenge of the applicant’s choice. The winning projects ranged from an intimate portrayal of Latin Americans trying to reach the US border from Mexico to a photo diary of the humanitarian consequences of the unresolved Nagorny Karabakh armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. All of the selected projects and more information about the finalists can be found here: www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/2010-11-19-young-reporters-event.htm

“I’ve been learning about extreme forms of violence against women and young girls,” said one of the runners-up, Sana Masood, who works with female acid burn victims in Pakistan. “Hating the crime is one thing, but understanding these young women and the exceptional strength they exhibit just amazes me. I thought I was there to help empower them, but instead their bravery and courage empowered me.”

The director of the ICRC’s Communication and Information Management Department, Charlotte Lindsey-Curtet, said all of the finalists displayed similar compassion and a yearning to tackle tough subjects. “These young reporters are trying to shed light on some incredibly difficult stories that even some seasoned journalists might struggle to tell. What’s more, they’re doing it in innovative ways, via social media, for example, that enable them to be part of a growing, global conversation on issues that matter. I can’t wait to see what they produce when they visit ICRC and local projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the field."

The five winners will travel to a country that has been affected by armed conflict – Georgia, Lebanon, Liberia, the Philippines or Senegal – and will be given the opportunity to cover a local ICRC humanitarian project. Two of the runners-up will get to collaborate with the two winners travelling to Liberia and Senegal, while the third will cover an ICRC project in Pakistan. Everyone will have the chance to talk with other young people who have experienced armed violence or suffered its consequences, discover the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and learn more about covering humanitarian issues.

All eight young reporters will be flown to Geneva next year to present their “stories from the field” at a special event on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, which takes place annually on 8 May.

For further information or interviews, journalists are invited to call:
Anna Nelson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2063 or +41 79 217 32 64