Ukrainian photojournalist wins Perpignan top prize for work in Mariupol

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© María Carolina Piña

Ukrainian photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka has won the top Visa d'Or award at the International Photography Festival in the southern French city of Perpignan. Maloletka, who was honoured for his work during the Russian siege of Mariupol, dedicated his prize to the Ukrainian people.

The 35-year-old journalist, who works for the Associated Press news agency, was one of the first reporters to enter Mariupol on 23 February, an hour before the first Russian bombs fell.

He was also one of the last to leave, finally quitting the city on 15 March, by which time Mariupol had been almost entirely destroyed by Russian shelling.

The 20 days he spent under siege, he said, were like one long, unending day, "becoming worse and worse".

His pictures showed the horrors of the conflict in the port city: children killed during the siege, heavily pregnant women lying among the ruins of bombed-out buildings, hastily improvised common graves.

War in Ukraine dominant theme

The Russian bombardment of the city of 400,000 inhabitants, in particular a direct hit on a maternity hospital, provoked outrage around the world.

The other two photographers nominated were Daniel Berehulak, an Australian of Ukrainian origin, for "People lived here", his reportage for the New York Times on the massacre of civilians in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv; and Marcus Yam's assignment for the Los Angeles Times: "The fall of Afghanistan."

The war in Ukraine has been one of the dominant themes at the International Festival of Photojournalism, which opened on 27 August.