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AFP’s video production wins two awards in one week

Solan Kolli, an AFP collaborator in Ethiopia, won the prestigious Rory Peck Award, just days after AFP was voted Agency of the Year at the AIB Media Awards for the second year in a row.

Solan Kolli was awarded the prize on Tuesday in London, in the News category for ‘‘The Cost of War’’ a report produced for AFP on the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. AFP was one of the first independent media to gain access to Tigray after the Ethiopian federal authorities launched a vast military operation on November 4th, 2020, against the dissident authorities in (take out) this northern region of the country. 

Solan Kolli was part of the AFP multimedia team (text, photo, video) that brought back exclusive images proving the existence of large-scale civilian massacres.  

The Rory Peck Award jury praised Kolli’s video coverage as ‘‘a powerful and candid approach to what was happening in Tigray’’, even though the conflict ‘‘did not receive sufficient coverage’’ by the media. ‘‘His work was bold and courageous (...) bringing the conflict into the spotlight despite its remoteness.’’

For the last seven years, Solan Kolli, 32, has been covering Ethiopia in video and its many facets for AFP. In Tigray, he brought back the first images of mass graves in Mai-Kadra, proving the massacre of several hundred civilians summarily executed in early November 2020. He also provided the first interviews with the terrified inhabitants of Humera, who had come under federal army fire. 

During three extended assignments in Tigray, he produced for AFP several other reports on the war and its political and humanitarian fallout, widely used by the media worldwide. In June, he covered the Ethiopian national elections from the Amhara region, which plays a key role in both Tigray’s war and national politics. 

Solan Kolli reacted: “This award means a lot to me because it is a testament that my features succeeded in shining a light in the middle of information blackout and making the voice of Ethiopian war victims heard across the borders, knocking on many doors and touching many hearts.” 

“I would like to dedicate this award to all the victims of war around the world, and in particular to those brave children, women and men in Northern Ethiopia , whose pain and suffering are featured in my stories, ” he added.

‘‘This award for Solan Kolli is thoroughly deserved for his brave and vital work for AFP helping to uncover the real story on the ground in Tigray. The quality of the images speak for themselves. This is public service journalism of the highest quality’’ said Phil Chetwynd, AFP’s News Director.   

It is the fifth time in eight years that an AFP staff member has won this prestigious award. Previous AFP’s winners have been: 
- Luis Sequeira for his coverage of the 2018-2019 protests in Nicaragua,  
- Will Vassilopoulos for his coverage of the migrant crisis in Greece in 2016,   
- Zein Al-Rifai for his reportage on the Syrian conflict in 2015,   
- Pacome Pabandji for his reportage on the civil war in the Central African Republic in 2014. 

Launched in 1995 by the Rory Peck Trust, the award - named after a freelance journalist killed in Moscow in 1993 - recognizes the world’s best freelance news reporters in four separate categories.    

AFP’s video production was already recognized for its high-quality content last Friday when awarded Best Agency of the Year for the second year in a row by the Association for International Broadcasting. 

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