A War-torn Place

Daniel Brown
• Sunday, 20 December, 2020
• 8 min read

If you asked the ordinary soldier or citizen, mother or child of a country in conflict, they would almost certainly say no good will come of war. Killing and dying over money, power, religion and territory; the war machine rages on, as it has since the beginnings of civilization.

far cry screenshots screenshot torn paradise war
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Tensions in the Middle East are again reaching a heightened state; Russia and the Ukraine are in conflict over territory and civil wars in Africa and South America are still being fought and seemingly have no end. After three military coups in a period of a year, Sierra Leone settled into just over a decade of peace before an 11-year civil war broke out in 1991.

The war led to over 55,000 deaths and millions more wounded and displaced a figure that would have been much higher if not for British and American intervention. The conflict was, as is the case in so many African wars, over natural resources, specifically diamonds in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

Fought over religion and oil, most scholars agree that the first conflict never ended and instead an 11-year cease-fire kept tensions at bay, until the Second Sudanese Civil War erupted in 1982, lasting until 2005. The conflict in Sudan is one of the most devastating in African history, with places like Darfur becoming synonymous with massacres and human suffering.

When South Sudan finally broke away and formed an independent government in 2011, it was thought that violence in the utterly devastated region would subside. Another African nation utterly devastated by war, the conflict in Congo was precipitated by the Rwandan genocide.

With marauding guerrillas lead by warlords roaming the country, Congo descended into horror, with people being routinely shot, hacked and starved to death, children taken to become soldiers, and entire villages being wiped off the map. Engulfed in a civil war between various warlords and would be rulers from 1991 until 2006, the west pulled out of Somalia in 1995 amidst large numbers of casualties and no hope for restoring a centralized government.

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When the French left their colony of Vietnam in 1950 the country split into two opposing factions; the communist government recognized by the Soviet Union and China centered in Hanoi in the north, and the remnants of the French installed government in Saigon in the south, backed by the United States and Great Britain. All told, over 3 million people died in the conflict, and Vietnam is still experiencing the debilitating effects of the war nearly 40 years later.

Conflict in Colombia has been ongoing since 1964 between the government, paramilitary groups, left wing armed revolutionaries and various criminal organizations. Essentially, it is a free for all with a central government doing little to stop the violence that has claimed over 200,000 lives, the vast majority civilian, and forced over 5 million people from their homes.

Though peace talks opened in 2012, rebels quickly thwarted any hope for resolution by killing over 20 people in July 2013. Known officially since 1989 as Republic of the Union of Myanmar when the ruling military government changed the country’s name from Burma, either way you call it, the nation has been engaged in an ethnic civil war since 1948.

Though 25 separate groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the military government, violence still occurs in certain areas of the country. While various groups vie for power in Iraq against a weak central government and military, the west has yet again decided to enter the conflict in the Middle Eastern nation to quell the violence.

The mountainous, largely inaccessible and opium rich nation of Afghanistan boasts some of the most beautiful geography in the world. Following a period of 60 years of relative peace, the Soviet Union attempted to conquer the mountains and waged a vicious war against the guerilla fighters, the Mujaheddin, until massive losses forced the Red Army to withdraw leaving the nation ruler-less.

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A period of civil wars followed culminating in the rise of the Taliban, before a post-9/11 coalition invaded the country, where western forces and Afghan military still fight a violent insurgency today. The conflict has spilled over Chechnya’s borders and into neighboring Islamic territories within Russia as well, meaning there may be no end in sight to the violence.

Fun English Word Lists To Explore Iraqi children talk to a U.S. soldier as he stands guard during the opening ceremony of West police station in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday Aug. 9, 2003.

Sharp is an eminent Indian photojournalist with a wide body of work. He’s been working with Associated Press (AP) for 14 years, and has extensive experience covering conflict situations with his lens, whether it’s strife-torn Afghanistan and Syria, or self-immolation protests closer home.

Lots of stunning portraits and candid photographs were shared on social media. But the only two photographs in recent months that got everyone’s attention the most, had the specter of conflict shadowing the subjects.

One was the photo of a young four-year-old girl, identified later than Judea, with her tiny hands raised in alarm, as if she were staring into the cold emptiness of a gun’s barrel. It was in fact, the telephoto lens of a Turkish photographer Osman SARL who took the photo at a refugee camp in Syria.

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The other photograph to stir the world’s collective conscience was that of Alan Kurd, the Syrian toddler washed ashore in Turkey. In an interview to The Wall Street Journal, the photographer, Pilfer Emir, said her “blood froze” when she saw the body.

At the time Parekh was working as picture editor for some publications in South East Asia that had no interest in covering the war. He took the first flight out of Hong Kong where he was based, for Calcutta, and jumped into an army helicopter carrying a press troupe to the war zone.

The army major leading the group refused to accommodate him because he didn’t have accreditation. But that doesn’t mean conflict photographers in India don’t deal with extreme risk and trauma when on assignment.

Danish Sharp, who’s covered Margin, Bangkok, Iraq and other conflicts, says that over time one learns to cope with it all, though the early days may be a bit rough. News agencies like AP, AFP and Reuters send their journalists for courses that familiarize them with conflict situations.

Journalists and photographers are also provided with a helmet, a bullet-proof jacket and a gas mask for such assignments. But some survival instincts need to be chiseled into shape on a personal level by the photographer and reporter concerned.

war torn street editorial
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A veteran conflict photographer, Srinagar-born Madrid has covered most of the modern wars in Syria, Afghanistan and India. While covering the Libyan conflict between Colonel Gaddafi and the rebel forces who wanted to oust his government, Madrid was stuck in a small 4×6-foot dark room next to a gas station in a remote corner somewhere off Benghazi for almost two days without any supplies.

The room was “stinking of rotten onions and human excrement in one corner,” remembers Madrid. By night, he managed to escape to another nearby building and had to rummage through a trashcan to finally find a half-full bottle of water.

Libyan rebels run for cover as they shell pro Gaddafi forces along the front line near Breda, Libya, Saturday, April 2, 2011 (AP Photo/Altar Madrid) (AP) Sensitivity & sensibility Senior journalist and defense analyst Nitin Goal, who has extensive experience in covering conflict, says that photographers don’t need to be insensitive to be able to capture war and its effects.

“Many photographers in Kashmir are asked why their photos include funerals of supposed militants, but not of soldiers,” he explains. Indian soldiers take positions for the final assault during a gunfight with a suspected militant Abu Vital, an alleged commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba, in Ajax, some 54 KMS north-east of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 15 January 2008.

(EPA/Altar Madrid) Some sense of personal politics does influence the work of most photographers, says Sharp: “In an Indo-Pak war we were obviously happy when the firing was from our side... these emotions do seep into your photos. When Goal was working out of Guwahati which was in the midst of militant turmoil, Mother Teresa died.

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Close Va run Drawn was one of the many stars who used Face to picture himself as an older man(Instagram: @varundvn) By Khushboo Lankan, Prasad BiPAP Khushboo Lankan and Prasad BiPAP make their point in this debate about ageism.

Close William Richmond Basaiawmoit was spotted by ‘Uncle Neil’ (Neil Nongkynrih, founder of Shillong Chamber Choir), when he was back home for the summer break while pursuing English Honors from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College. He’s young and single, leads India’s premier choir and hangs out with celebs.

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