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UNICEF Photo of the Years 2013-2022




A photograph can speak a thousand words. The perfect shot has the power to not only convey numerous emotions to the viewer, but it can also deeply impact the person. An example of such impactful photography can be seen every year in the International Photo of the Year Award held and awarded by UNICEF Germany which are also famously known as UNICEF Photo of the Years. Every year it is awarded to photographers and photojournalists whose photography documents the personalities and living conditions of children across the globe. Here are the UNICEF Photo of the Years 2013-2022.  

Photo of the year 2013

This photograph was taken by Niclas Hammarström, a Swedish photographer who won the Photo of the Year award in 2013 for depicting the horrific lives and conditions of the children in the war-torn town of Aleppo in Syria. Being a father of three children himself, Hammarström travelled to Aleppo with a goal in mind to show to the world the suffering and tragic lives of the children there and the immense impact a war can have on the children. The photo you see is of eleven-year-old Dania in a hospital wing, who was injured while playing on the streets.  

Syria’s “forgotten” child victims 

PHOTO: Niclas Hammarström, Sweden – UNICEF Photo of the year 2013

Photo of the year 2014 

Clicked by German photographers Insa Hagemann and Stefan Finger, this photograph was the winner of the year 2014. Depicting the effects of sex tourism in Philippines, the image gives an insight into the lives of children whose fathers live abroad. The mothers of these children had once hoped for the fathers to lift them out of poverty, even if it meant getting into sex work. However, the different colors, facial features, hair and eyes on the streets of Philippines – it shows the longing of being loved.  

“Wanna have love?” 

PHOTO: Insa Hagemann and Stefan Finger, Germany – UNICEF Photo of the year 2014. 

Photo of the year 2015  

Winner of the year 2015 was Macedonian photographer Georgi Licovski, whose photograph depicted the situation of the refugees at the borders of Greece and Macedonia. To appeal to the Macedonian troops, some refugees sent their children to the front lines. In the chaos of the pushing from the mass of people, the children were separated from their parents on the other side of the border and were unable to get through. The photo depicts the horror in the cries of the children wanting to unite with their parents.  

Utter despair 

PHOTO: Georgi Licovski, Macedonia – UNICEF Photo of the year 2015. 

Photo of the year 2016 

This photo taken by Iranian photographer Arez Ghaderi became the Photo of the year 2016. Taken somewhere near the Razavi Khorasan Province, Ghaderi came across this resilient girl child, smiling despite all the hardships. While the parents of the migrated Baluchi families from Pakistan and Afghanistan go off in search of livelihood, their children stray around in the heaps of plastic. The photo depicts the fundamental right of every child on this planet, the right to simply be a child and have a good childhood.  

Defending the right to smile

PHOTO: Arez Ghaderi, Iran – UNICEF Photo of the Year 2016 

Photo of the year 2017 

It is the emotionally impacting face of a five-year-old Syrian refugee girl named Zahra that won the Photo of the year Award in the year 2017. Taken by renowned photographer of Jerusalem, Muhammed Muheisen, this photo depicts the ill fate of the hundreds of children of the refugees like Zahra who have no means of having even a basic education. In the eyes of young Zahra, we see helplessness and horrors that children face for being innocent victims of war.  

The face of a tormented childhood 

PHOTO: Muhammed Muheisen, Syria – UNICEF Photo of the Year 2017 

Photo of the year 2018 

“Every child matters!” was the message of the Photo of the Year 2018 clicked by Spanish Photographer Antonio Aragón Renuncio of a small boy from Togo, that captured the courage within children despite living in the harshest conditions. No matter how the child is born, healthy or with disabilities, in which religion or of which color, or from which region; all children have the same rights and need to be treated equally with love.  

A boy from Togo 

PHOTO: Antonio Aragón Renuncio, Spain – UNICEF Photo of the Year 2018 

Photo of the year 2019

German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach clicked this photo that won the award for Photo of the year 2019 with a thirteen-year-old Wenie Mahiya in the frame. One of the hundreds of children in the Tondo slums of the Philippines, making a living by collecting plastic from the filthy waters of the bay, Wenie paddles across the waters collecting plastic bottles to sell to the recyclers to earn a few pesos. This image by Schwarzbach accurately captures three horrors of the modern world: Poverty, Child Labour and Pollution.  

Garbage, the Children and Death 

PHOTO: Hartmut Schwarzbach (Argus Photo Agency), Germany – UNICEF Photo of the Year 2019 

Photo of the year 2020

Greek photographer Angelos Tzortzinis has captured the fear and horror on the faces of the innocent refugee children with their breathing masks, holding their loved ones and one another and making it through the dark smoke while their camps are being burnt down, leaving them with no shelter. The strength of this young boy in the frame saving an even younger one in the dire need to survive shows the catastrophe of man-made wars and violence.  

The flames of misery 

PHOTO: Angelos Tzortzinis, Greece (Agence France Press) – UNICEF Photo of the Year 2020 

Photo of the year 2021 

Indian Photographer Supratim Bhattacharjee came across a girl wandering “hopelessly” in the Sundarbans coastal region of India and Bangladesh where it is normal for the villages to be washed away and the children having to navigate their path to school through knee-deep waters almost every day. This visual was awarded the Photo of the year in 2021. An eleven-year-old Pallavi is seen hopeless as she tries her best to help her family as their house and belongings after being crushed in the storm are now being washed away.  

Drowned Hopes 

PHOTO: Supratim Bhattacharjee, India – UNICEF Photo of the Year 2021 

Photo of the year 2022 

In this destroyed library of an elementary school in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Argentinian photographer Eduardo Soteras captured the happiness within two children who have taken refuge in the world within the books, becoming the UNICEF Photo of the year 2022. Due to armed conflicts with the central government, the people of this region are suffering from malnutrition, displacement, violence and terrible living conditions. This photo reminds us that violence cannot be the reason children are deprived of their basic joy.  

Taking Refuge in Books 

PHOTO: Eduardo Soteras, Argentina, AFP (Agence France Press) – UNICEF Photo of the Year 2022 

Among all the photos that have been awarded Photo of the Year throughout 2013–2022, there lies one common underlying message of how children are the most innocent victims of man-made struggles and disasters across the globe. Through these images the world can witness some of the most horrific yet impactful visuals of the lives of these children.  

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