“As if through a magnifying glass, Georgi Licovski captured in his image the desperate situation of children who are fleeing war and violence.” That’s how patroness of UNICEF Germany, Daniela Schadt, described the UNICEF Photo of the Year by Georgi Licovski. The Macedonian photographer covered the situation of children in the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe over the last months.
UNICEF colleague Kristina Müller met Georgi in Berlin. An interview with the winner of this year’s international award „UNICEF Photo of the Year“ by UNICEF Germany.
For what reason did you decide to engage in photography? What does it mean for you to be a photographer?
I started photographing accidentally and quite late. I was 20 years old when I first started photographing seriously. In the beginning I was doing wedding photography and after a couple of years I got an unexpected opportunity to join the biggest Macedonian newspaper and start doing news photography. The work as a photographer made me very happy. A certain time had to pass for me to realize that to be a photographer is not easy and carries many responsibilities. Our photographs can change people’s lives and I think that we should be very aware of that.
Can you briefly describe the moment when you took the winning photo of these two children at the Greek-Macedonian border?
It was on August 21. The police had their orders but the migrants had their agenda. They tried to pass the police cordon by putting the women and children on the front lines.
That was a day I will never forget. It was for the first time that I saw my colleagues cry as they took pictures, shaken by the terrified children’s faces that were trying to find their parents, brothers and sisters in the chaos that happened. I was taking pictures with intention to show the world what was happening.
What does the award “UNICEF Photo of the Year 2015” means to you?
This was a long and difficult year for me, physically and mentally. It was not easy from day to day to take pictures of the people who, because of the horrors of the war, had to leave their homes and try and find better and safer lives in the countries of the EU. No man, no woman and the least no child deserves to leave their home, to run thousands of kilometers away from their homes so they can feel safe.
I’m really proud and happy for the choice the jury made honoring me with this prestigious award, and I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
How do you handle the experience of facing suffer, fear and helplessness of the people when working?
I still dream of the scenes where the refugees carry their children and run in order to find a place on the train for Serbia. Hundreds were fighting by the doors to get inside. Many of them were jumping and getting in through the windows of the train. I can’t forget the children whose fasces were terrified by the chaos that surrounded them. But I hope that the photos of suffering of these people will touch the conscience of the political elite in the world, to try and help in resolving the problem of these people in the countries where they come from. The world is powerful; all that is needed is some good will.
Your wish for the future?
My wish for the future is to take less pictures of human tragedy and much more of human success and happiness.
An interview by Kristina Müller, UNICEF Germany (Dezember 2015)
One question remains. What about the two children today? We don't know. We only can hope that they are safe and reunited with their families.
For more information about the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe, visit the English UNICEF website.