Zohra Bensemra, Algeria
Iraq: Freed, but not free of fear
Mosul, Iraq, summer of 2017. The “Islamic State” has been driven from the second largest city in Iraq – three years after they had captured it. The fighting during the months it took to recapture the city, in whose Great Mosque the leader of ISIS had declared his caliphate, has left the city in ruins. The population: turned into hostages, caught between the fronts and repeatedly prevented from fleeing the city. Then this moment: a little barefoot girl who had just arrived holding the hand of a young man stands in front of an Iraqi special forces checkpoint in Kokjali. A soldier brandishing his weapon next to this shy little girl: one of the absurd situations many of the city’s two million inhabitants had to live through, including the children. And still have to.
Photographer Zohra Bensemra, born in Algiers in 1968, captured the children’s fear and vulnerability in this and other photographs. She is one of those photojournalists who go to where it must even hurt the viewer to imagine such a life: She documented the Algerian civil war, has been to Afghanistan and Somalia, Sudan and Libya. While working for Reuters, she also traveled from Mosul to the Syrian city of Raqqa, the next location in the battle to oust ISIS, to the next place where children also die.
Curriculum Vitae: Zohra Bensemra, Algeria (Thomson Reuters)
Born in Algiers, Zohra Bensemra has worked as a photojournalist since 1990. She started her career working for El Watan newspaper as Algeria’s first female photographer, before joining Reuters in 1997 during the Algeri-an civil war.
She went on in 2000 to cover the conflict between the Albani-ans and the Serbs in Macedonia and in 2003, was assigned to Iraq to cover the war. She has since worked across the Middle-East and Africa, covering the referendum in Sudan, the Tunisian uprising and the revolution in Libya, as well as the crisis situations in Afghanistan, Syria, Darfur and Somalia.
From 2012 to 2014, she was Reuters Chief Photographer for Pakistan, based in Islamabad, before moving back to Algiers where she continues to cover news events in Middle-East and Africa. she travelled several times to Iraq taking pictures alongside Iraqi forces battling Islamic State militants in Mosul, then alongside Syrian Democratic Forces fighters (SDF) Battling IS in Raqqa. Recently,she travelled to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to cover Rohingya crisis.