AFPTV journalist Will Vassilopoulos wins Rory Peck award for migrant coverage

London, December 2016: AFPTV correspondent Will Vassilopoulos has won an award for his coverage of the migrant crisis in his native Greece from Britain's Rory Peck Trust which supports freelancers globally.

AFPTV's Will Vassilopoulos wins Rory Peck Award.
Greek-Canadian Vassilopoulos was awarded the Rory Peck Award for news for his footage of migrants and refugees arriving in Greece after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.

Filming between October 2015 and March this year, he followed the new arrivals' journey from the island of Lesbos to the makeshift Idomeni camp on Greece's northern border with Macedonia.

Vassilopoulos' footage there covers demonstrations by those at the border and an attempt by hundreds of migrants to cross a river to reach Macedonia.

Collecting the award at the British Film Institute on London's Southbank, Vassilopoulos said it had been "very challenging" covering the crisis.

"There is an emotional toll for all of us in the field. It hurts you really hard when it happens at home," he said. "My intensions were always to film with upmost respect for migrants, and to film them with dignity."

Judges said Vassilopoulos' work stood out for his long sequences and his eye for detail.

"It brought the humanity of it home so much. It's difficult to do something exceptional when everyone is shooting it, however tragic and important the story is, and Will really managed that," the judges said on the Rory Peck Awards website.

Also shortlisted for the news award was AFPTV journalist Nabil Hassan, for his work in Yemen covering fighting between Shiite Houthi rebels and government forces.

The third shortlisted journalist was Waad Al Kateeb, nominated for her coverage in Syria of the aftermath of an airstrike in which three brothers were hit while out playing in Aleppo.

The Syrian city has been devastated by the war and has suffered intense bombardment in recent weeks as President Bashar al-Assad's forces try to defeat rebels in Aleppo.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Rory Peck Awards, AFP's global news director Michele Leridon praised the work of Karam al-Masri, the news agency's journalist in the city.

"I am amazed at the courage shown by Karam and our team in Aleppo who are trapped by the fighting," she said.

Al-Masri in September recounted his experience of years spent living through the conflict, including being tortured in detention.

"The massacres and the bombings have become normal, along with images of children under rubble, the injured, bodies torn to pieces," wrote al-Masri, who was a law student at Aleppo University before the war started.

AFPTV's coverage in Aleppo was recognised by the Rory Peck Awards last year, when journalist Zein Al-Rifai took the news prize for his coverage of the everyday lives of people in rebel-held areas.

The 2014 winner for news was Pacome Pabandji, who won for his coverage of the civil war in the Central African Republic.

This year's news features prize was awarded to journalist Marco Salustro, for footage published by Vice News of an unofficial detention camp in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, where he witnessed the abuse of migrants.

Marcel Mettelsiefen picked up the current affairs award for his coverage of three young sisters and their brother after their father was captured by the Islamic State group in Syria. The filming was commissioned by ITN Productions for Channel 4 Dispatches in association with ZDF and WGBH/Frontline.

The Rory Peck Awards were launched in 1995 by the Trust, set up in memory of freelance journalist Rory Peck who was killed in Moscow in 1993. The awards recognise the best freelance news cameramen and camerawomen around the world.
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