Être reporter de guerre m'a fait kidnapper... à deux reprises !

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Être reporter de guerre m'a fait kidnapper... à deux reprises !

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Becoming a Photojournalist
    • 2.1 My First Journey to Afghanistan
    • 2.2 Covering the Fall of Saddam Hussein
  3. Life on the Front Lines
    • 3.1 Ambushed by the Taliban
    • 3.2 Witnessing the Death of a Soldier
    • 3.3 The Experience of Being a Hostage
  4. Making a Difference Through Photography
    • 4.1 Shedding Light on Maternal Death
    • 4.2 The Limitations of a War Photographer
    • 4.3 The Role of Gender in the Field
  5. Challenges and Lessons Learned
    • 5.1 Criticism and Stereotypes
    • 5.2 The Power of Social Media
    • 5.3 The Emotional Impact of War
  6. The Importance of Journalism
    • 6.1 Countering Falsehoods and Promoting Truth
    • 6.2 Gaining Perspective on Life

Becoming a Photojournalist

From curiosity to covering war and humanitarian issues

Being a photojournalist was never part of my initial plan. My journey began out of sheer curiosity, driven by the desire to understand the reality faced by women living under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Borrowing money from my sister and coordinating with the UN and local NGOs, I embarked on my first trip to Afghanistan, completely unaware of the dangers I would soon face.

My First Journey to Afghanistan

Exploring the lives of women under the Taliban

Arriving in Afghanistan shortly after September 11th, during the fall of the Taliban, I found myself in a situation where uncertainty and fear were constant companions. The New York Times journalist traveling with me even had to notify the Pentagon of our exact location to ensure we weren't accidentally bombed. It was a truly terrifying experience, but it ignited a passion within me to tell the stories of those affected by conflict.

Covering the Fall of Saddam Hussein

First-hand encounters with combat and its aftermath

In 2003, I was presented with the opportunity to cover what was expected to be the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. This marked my first encounter with combat and the harsh realities of war. I witnessed the devastating effects on civilians, the chaos of people fleeing, and the sight of lifeless bodies. It was a stark awakening to the true nature of conflict.

Life on the Front Lines

Surviving ambushes and facing the fragility of life

As a war photojournalist, I have encountered numerous life-threatening situations. One vivid memory was an ambush in the Cornwall Valley of Afghanistan. After disembarking from Blackhawks onto a mountainside, we embarked on a six-day journey with everything we needed on our backs. But on the sixth day, we were attacked by the Taliban from three sides, leaving us in mortal peril.

Ambushed by the Taliban

A terrifying and life-threatening encounter

The Taliban launched a vicious attack, leaving us surrounded and outnumbered. The sound of gunfire echoed through the valley as we fought for our lives. The bravery of three soldiers shone brightly amidst the chaos, but tragically, Sergeant Rugal lost his life in the midst of the firefight. It was a heart-wrenching moment as his comrades carried his lifeless body to the medevac helicopter.

The Experience of Being a Hostage

Helplessness and survival instincts

Being taken hostage stripped me of any semblance of power. In a desperate bid for survival, we found ourselves lying face down in the dirt with Kalashnikovs pressed against our heads. Time seemed to stretch into eternity as I begged for my life. The human instinct for survival kicked in, allowing me to remain calm and focused on staying alive.

Making a Difference Through Photography

Using my lens to shed light on important issues

As a photojournalist, I strive to make a difference through my work. One important subject I focused on was maternal death, particularly in Sierra Leone, where over 500,000 women were dying each year during childbirth. My encounter with Mama Si Se, a pregnant woman with twins, remains etched in my memory.

Shedding Light on Maternal Death

Documenting the harsh realities faced by pregnant women

Mama Si Se's journey to the hospital entailed a treacherous canoe ride, followed by a long and bumpy six-hour drive. Concerned about her profuse bleeding, I urged the midwives to take action. However, despite my pleas, she tragically lost her life. This experience emphasized the limitations of a war photographer's ability to intervene and help those in need.

The Role of Gender in the Field

The advantages and challenges of being a female photojournalist

Being a woman in conflict zones often granted me access to parts of society that my male colleagues couldn't reach. I could enter people's homes and spend extended periods with women, particularly in the Muslim world. However, being a mother and a woman in a male-dominated profession has its own set of challenges.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Criticism, media stereotypes, and the power of social media

Working as a photojournalist in war zones comes with its fair share of criticism and stereotypes. Some editors have expressed doubts about sending mothers, like myself, into dangerous situations. However, the stories I cover are often those of pregnant women and the struggles they face, which further highlights the disparity in perception.

Criticism and Stereotypes

The struggle against stereotypes and biases

As a pregnant journalist in war zones, I faced criticism from many who failed to understand the nature of the stories I was working on. Ironically, the women I documented were themselves facing unimaginable hardships, yet their plight didn't garner the same concern. Overcoming stereotypes is an ongoing battle, but it drives me to continue telling the stories that need to be heard.

The Power of Social Media

A platform for change and awareness

Social media has revolutionized the way we consume news and information. It serves as a powerful tool to expose younger audiences to subjects they might otherwise overlook in traditional media outlets. Utilizing this platform, we can create awareness, challenge misconceptions, and shed light on the realities faced by those affected by conflict.

The Importance of Journalism

Countering falsehoods, promoting truth, and gaining perspective

In today's world, where falsehoods and misinformation abound, the role of journalism has never been more crucial. By being on the ground, witnessing events firsthand, and reporting the truth, we can counter the narratives built on lies. Throughout my years of work, I have gained invaluable perspective on the fragility of life and the resilience of the human spirit.

Countering Falsehoods and Promoting Truth

The need to challenge misinformation

In an era where truth is often distorted, my commitment to journalism is unwavering. When political leaders like President Trump continuously spread falsehoods, we must vigorously counter their narrative with facts. Being present in the field allows us to provide accurate and reliable information, serving as a bulwark against the tide of misinformation.

Gaining Perspective on Life

Appreciating the value of life

Years of witnessing the horrors of war have provided me with a unique perspective on life. Having seen the fragility of existence and the swiftness with which it can be extinguished, I have developed a deep appreciation for the preciousness of every moment. The gruesome images and experiences I have encountered only strengthen my resolve to make a difference through my work.


  • From curiosity to capturing the realities of war: the journey of a photojournalist
  • Surviving ambushes and facing mortality on the front lines of conflict
  • Using photography to shed light on maternal death and humanitarian issues
  • The limitations and advantages of being a female photojournalist in conflict zones
  • Overcoming stereotypes and challenges in a male-dominated field
  • The power of social media in shaping perceptions and creating awareness
  • How journalism can counter falsehoods and promote truth in society
  • Gaining a profound appreciation for life through the lens of war


Q: Are war photographers really as brave as they are portrayed? A: While war photographers are often portrayed as fearless and brave, the true heroes are the individuals living in conflict zones, who demonstrate immense courage in the face of unimaginable hardships.

Q: What impact can social media have on changing perceptions of war? A: Social media provides a platform for exposing younger generations to the harsh realities of war and conflict. It allows for increased awareness and encourages a broader understanding of the issues faced by those affected.

Q: How do war photographers cope with the emotional toll of their work? A: War photography takes an emotional toll on photographers, often leaving them deeply affected by the scenes they witness. However, their conviction in the importance of their work and the stories they tell helps them persevere.

Q: What is the role of journalism in today's politically charged climate? A: Journalism plays a critical role in countering falsehoods and promoting truth in today's politically charged climate. By providing accurate and reliable information, journalists act as a safeguard against the spread of misinformation.

Q: How has being a photojournalist shaped your perspective on life? A: The experiences and images witnessed as a photojournalist have given me a profound appreciation for the value of life. I have come to understand the fleeting nature of existence and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

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