Rebel soldiers from the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) prepare the truck to go for water in the middle of a sand storm in North Darfur, Sudan, on Feb. 24, 2015.
Rebel soldiers from the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) prepare the truck to go for water in the middle of a sand storm in North Darfur, Sudan, on Feb. 24, 2015. Adriane Ohanesian

Adriane Ohanesian Wins Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award

May 10, 2016

Sudan is a country at the center of several ongoing conflicts — both internally and beyond its borders. In the country's Western region, Darfur, at least 300,000 people are said to have been killed after the government cracked down on an insurgency more than 13 years ago.

For the past six years, the New York-born, Nairobi-based photographer Adriane Ohanesian has held a place in her heart for the troubled nation — and now her "tenacious dedication" to the story has earned her the 2016 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award, a prize launched by the International Women’s Media Foundation in memory of the Associated Press photographer murdered in Afghanistan in April 2014. "[Ohanesian's] perceptive, compassionate eye offers an extraordinarily personal glimpse into places the global community may not otherwise see," the judges said as they awarded her a $20,000 cash prize to support her ongoing work.

That compassion is purposeful, the photographer says.

"On a personal level I feel a certain amount of responsibility because the people of Darfur have allowed me into their lives and kept me safe in their violent homeland," Ohanesian says. "I promised the people that I met that I would do everything within my power as a photographer to reveal what is continuing to happen in the isolated communities throughout Sudan. I cannot make people care, but I can show them why I think that they should."

The photographers Lynsey Addario and Paula Bronstein received honorable mentions.

Inside Sudan's War-Torn Darfur

Members of the rebel group Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) climb towards the front lines in Jebel Marra, Central Darfur, Sudan, on March 4, 2015. The mountainous area has been a stronghold of the SLA-AW since the conflict between the neglected population and the Sudanese government broke out in 2003.
Members of the rebel group Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) climb towards the front lines in Jebel Marra, Central Darfur, Sudan, on March 4, 2015. The mountainous area has been a stronghold of the SLA-AW since the conflict between the neglected population and the Sudanese government broke out in 2003.Adriane Ohanesian
Members of the rebel group Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) climb towards the front lines in Jebel Marra, Central Darfur, Sudan, on March 4, 2015. The mountainous area has been a stronghold of the SLA-AW since the conflict between the neglected population and the Sudanese government broke out in 2003.
An overhead view from the rebel territory that overlooks the town of Kroun in Jebel Marra, Central Darfur, Sudan, on March 4, 2015.
Adam Abdel, age 7, is seen on Feb. 27, 2015. He was badly burned after a bomb—said to be dropped by the Sudanese government on Feb. 12—landed next to his family's home in Burgu, Central Darfur, Sudan.
Women from the town of Golo wake up in the morning on the side of a mountain where they sleep outside of Kome in Central Darfur, Sudan, on Feb. 28, 2015.
After fleeing a ground attack on the town of Golo on Jan. 24, a woman carries a bowl of water up the mountain from where she lives under a tree outside of Kome in Central Darfur, Sudan, Feb. 28, 2015.
HundreHundreds of women and children seek shelter in a cave from the bombing by the Sudanese government's forces outside of the town of Sarong in Central Darfur, Sudan, March 2, 2015. Human rights groups estimate that over 100,000 people have been displaced in Darfur in the first few months of 2015. ds of women and children seek shelter in a cave from the bombing by the Sudanese government's forces outside of the town of Sarong in Central Darfur, Sudan on March 2, 2015.
In the early morning, sisters wake up in a cave where they sleep with hundreds of other people whose villages have been destroyed, or who are seeking shelter from bombardment, outside Sarong in Central Darfur, Sudan, March 2, 2015.
Rebel soldiers from the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) keep warm by a fire outside their camp in North Darfur, Sudan, on Feb. 22, 2015.
Rebel soldiers from the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) prepare the truck to go for water in the middle of a sand storm in North Darfur, Sudan, on Feb. 24, 2015.
Civilians flee their homes with the few belongings they could carry, while members of the SLA-AW walk toward the front lines in Central Darfur, Sudan, on March 4, 2015.
Rebels of the Sudan Liberation Army, led by Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW), defended the top of a mountain from government forces in Central Darfur, Sudan, on March 4, 2015.
A body decays out in the open above the abandoned town of Koi that was attacked and burned a week earlier by government forces in Central Darfur, Sudan, on March 2, 2015.
Members of the rebel group Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) climb towards the front lines in Jebel Marr
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"It is a huge honor to receive this award, especially since I suddenly find myself in the company of such incredible women photographers who have been in this industry for literally decades," Ohanesian tells TIME. "It has been an unbelievable feeling to be recognized for the work that I’ve been committing myself to for the last few years. I tend to work fairly independently; often I’m working in isolated areas and not on assignment or shooting major news events. I’ve been sending images off into the world hoping to see a response and crossing my fingers that the photos will find their way to a publication that can reach as wide of an audience as possible."

Ohanesian now hopes the award will help "get the word out about what is happening in Darfur," she says, "and perhaps continue the momentum to make it possible for future reporting trips to the region."

Adriane Ohanesian is a freelance photographer based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

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