Swedish photographer Paul Hansen wins World Press Photo award

Friday 15 February 2013 17.29
Paul Hansen took his award-winning photograph in Gaza on 20 November
Paul Hansen took his award-winning photograph in Gaza on 20 November

Swedish photographer Paul Hansen has won the 2013 World Press Photo award for newspaper Dagens Nyheter with a picture of two Palestinian children killed in an Israeli missile strike being carried to their funeral.

The picture shows a group of men marching the dead bodies through a narrow street in Gaza City.

The victims, a brother and sister, are wrapped in white cloth with only their faces showing.

"The strength of the pictures lies in the way it contrasts the anger and sorrow of the adults with the innocence of the children," said jury member Mayu Mohanna of Peru. "It's a picture I will not forget."

World Press Photo, one of photojournalism's most prestigious contests, issued awards in nine categories to 54 photographers of 32 nationalities.

Mr Hansen's 20 November shot won top prize in both the spot news single photograph category and the overall competition.

It portrays two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her three-year-old brother Muhammad, who were killed when their house was destroyed by the Israeli attack.

They are being carried by grieving uncles, as their father Fouad was also killed, and his body can be seen in the background of the picture.

The children's mother, whose name was not provided, was in intensive care.

"This prize is the highest honour you can get in the profession," Mr Hansen said.

"I'm very happy, but also very sad. The family lost two children and the mother is unconscious in a hospital.

"These situations are so visually complex. It's difficult to convey the emotions, to translate what is happening. The light is harsh and there are a lot of people.

"But in the alley the light bounced off the walls, so I thought this is a place where you can see that it's a procession. ... You get the depth in the image, and the bouncing light."

Violence in the Middle East, and its effect upon civilians, was the dominant theme in the hard news categories.

The contest drew entries from professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers across the world.

In all, 103,481 images were submitted by 5,666 photographers from 124 countries.

The photos were submitted anonymously to a panel of 19 jury members, chaired by AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon, and judged in multiple rounds.

The winners were all "stellar examples of first-rate photojournalism," Mr Lyon said.

Other judges came from Germany, Iraq, Peru, France, Sweden, China, Britain, Spain, Azerbaijan, South Africa, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the US.