On The Brink of an Abyss

PhotographerFabio Bucciarelli
PrizeHonorable Mention

The first time I was in South Sudan was in 2012, after its independence. I remember the look on people’s faces - tired but happy, hopeful for a better future after a past full of pain and war. I returned in February 2014 to notice that, only a couple of short years later, the youngest country in the world was on the brink of an abyss. The conflict, which began with a power struggle between President Salva Kiir of the Dinka ethnicity, and his deputy Riek Machar, of the Nuer ethnic group, has transformed into a full blown ethnic war. In December 2013, after having been banished from the country's political life, Machar took refuge in the Unity State, his native area; he gathered his troops among the dissident army and people of the Nuer ethnicity and began his direct attack on Juba. Firstly he conquered Malakal, then Bor. Finally, he was stopped by Ugandan soldiers come to rescue President Salva Kir, and sent back to Unity State. During last months the disputed city have undergone several changes of power, being alternately occupied by the rebels or by the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army). The hatred among the Dinka and the Nuer ethnic group has greatly increased. In February 2014 - with help of the Italian NGO CCM (Comitato Collaborazione Medica) - I moved from Juba to Yirol, crossing Mingkaman. I went to the Lake State, where, over several days, I documented some of the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by the current unrest. These refugees constructed makeshift shelters out of seemingly nothing. Under a tropical sun and in scorching temperatures, they sought shelter in the shade of leafless trees, without food, health and medical services. The Sudanese conflict (like, generally speaking, most conflicts in Africa) is largely invisible. These wars are hidden and quick. It's hard to find front-line war photography of the kind we’ve seen in Libya or Syria. The images in South Sudan are different, more subtle: they describe visually the effect of the impending war, lending you a view of the civilian and military populations and providing a glimpse of life inside a murky, not clearly defined conflict. 
Causing death, disease and poverty since decades and decades, this 'invisible' conflict represents one of the longest and most forgotten African wars. Its apparent stillness leads to hear about it less and less, given the tragic consequences and repercussions on the population, I find it essential to bring it to light. On The Brink of the Abyss is a long term project whose aim is to document the evolution of South Sudan and its state of conflict, while remembering the deep origin of an unknown Africa.

About Photographer

Fabio Bucciarelli (Italy, 1980) is a documentary photographer who focus his attention on conflicts and humanitarian consequences of war. Fabio spent the latest years covering the major world changing events in Africa and Middle East. He reported from Libya from its earliest stages until the death of Gheddafi, from Syria during the civil war and from forgotten countries in Africa as South Sudan and Mali. He feels the urgency to tell the stories of people who are rendered powerless and  provide unbiased information focused on human rights.
 Before becoming a photographer, in 2006, Bucciarelli received the MS in Engineering from Politecnico of Turin. After, he attended the Universidad of Valencia where he specialized in Digital Imaging. From 2009 he devoted himself entirely to photography and started working as staff photographer for La Presse/Ap. A couple of years later, he leaved the agency to dedicate his attention fully to Documentary Photography. From 2011 to 2012 he worked with LUZ Photo Agency. Bucciarelli now is a freelance working in assignment mainly in Meddle East and Africa. He collaborates with Agence France Presse, different magazines and International newspapers and NGOs such as CCM (Comitato Collaborazione Medica) and ICRC. 
 In 2013 his project on Syria won the Robert Capa Gold Medal awarded by the Overseas Press Club of America, the prestigious award that recognizes the best published photographic reporting from abroad, requiring exceptional courage and enterprise. He has also been awarded by Prix Bayeux-Calvados, World Press Photo, The Pictures of The Year International, Sony World Photography Organisation, Leica Oskar Barnack, International Photography Awards, FotoEvidence Book Awards and World.Report Award.
 His work has regulary published by TIME Magazine, The Times, The Guardian and Observer, The New York Time, Foreign Policy, Stern, Die Zeit, Paris Match, La Stampa, Il Fatto Quotidiano, La Repubblica among others.
 Recently he also started writing for italian newspapers. His chronicles were published by TIME Magazine and Al Jazeera America. Bucciarelli’s last the book is "The Smell of the War" [Aliberti Editore] on the Libyan Conflict.