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Friday, April 14, 2017

soldiers-of-war: LEBANON. Ramesh. July 2006. A woman desperate...



soldiers-of-war:
LEBANON. Ramesh. July 2006. A woman desperate to flee her village is sitting on the stairs of her house.
This was was my first conflict. I was 30 at the time and had visited Lebanon in 2004 and 2005. Because I knew people there, I felt the urge to cover this story. I arrived in Beirut at the beginning of the conflict and I travelled to Tyre, in the south of the country, with Paolo Pellegrin who guided me into the world of conflict journalism.
I have two distinct memories of the situation. My first impression was that in Tyre there was no front line. Soldiers did not face each other in combat. Israel was bombing the south of Lebanon from planes and neither the local population, nor the journalists, could anticipate when that would happen. After an explosion, there was smoke, and the reporters, mostly all together, scrambled to report what was happening. Journalists in conflict areas, I then discovered, tend to stick together, share information as much as possible, move in small groups, cover the same events, and in some cases take more or less the same pictures. I suspected, and I learned that this is what you are supposed to do.
I took this picture of a woman desperate to flee Ramesh, Lebanon at the border with Israel. The village was isolated for over a week or so, due to the Israeli bombings. The population was stuck in the village without water and food. When the news reached journalists, a large group decided to drive there despite the risk of being hit by an Israeli bomb on the road. Once we arrived, the situation was tense and surreal. The population was desperate to flee. The few locals with cars were offering rides out of the village for $100 per person. Journalists and photographers were running around to get the most poignant pictures, the best quote. We were pressed for time and had to leave to file the news and pictures. I must confess — I was excited, scared and shocked, all at the same time. Probably, this was less about the the real situation, and more about my being there. Ten years later, I still sometimes wonder what I was really doing there.
Photograph: Davide Monteleone


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