TIME Afghanistan

U.K. Paratrooper Honored for Saving U.S. Marine

Handout photograph of VC recipient Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey of the Parachute Regiment
Reuters Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey of the Parachute Regiment is seen in this undated photograph released in London by Britain's Ministry of Defence February 26, 2015.

The Victoria Cross has only been awarded 15 times since the end of World War 2

A British paratrooper was awarded the highest British military honor Thursday for his actions during a firefight in 2013 in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, 27, is only the third serviceman to receive the Victoria Cross for service in Afghanistan and the fifteenth since World War 2, according to the BBC.

Leakey was with a group of British and American troops who were pinned down on the side of a hill in Helmand province by about 20 insurgents. During the Taliban attack, he ran through heavy fire multiple times to assess the situation, assist the wounded U.S. Marine Captain, and fire on the enemy, ultimately helping the troops regain the initiative. During the battle, 11 Taliban were killed and four were wounded.

TIME Afghanistan

Official Says Afghan Avalanches Kill At Least 124 People

Afghan villagers look on in a village close to an avalanche site in Panjshir province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 25, 2015.
Massoud Hossaini—AP Afghan villagers look on in a village close to an avalanche site in Panjshir province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Feb. 25, 2015

At least 124 people dead in northeastern Afghanistan

(PANJSHIR VALLEY, Afghanistan) — Avalanches caused by a heavy winter snow killed at least 124 people in northeastern Afghanistan, an emergency official said Wednesday, as rescuers clawed through debris with their hands to save those buried beneath.

The avalanches buried homes across four northeast provinces, killing those beneath, said Mohammad Aslam Syas, the deputy director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority. The province worst hit appeared to be Panjshir province, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of the capital, Kabul, where the avalanches destroyed or damaged around 100 homes, Syas said.

The acting governor of Panjshir, Abdul Rahman Kabiri, said rescuers used their bare hands and shovels in an effort to reach survivors. Rescue teams had been dispatched to the affected areas and casualties were expected to rise, Syas said.

The heavy snowstorms, which began early Tuesday, hampered rescue efforts. Snow fall from the storm was nearly 1-meter (3-feet) deep in places and fallen trees blocked roads in the Panjshir Valley.

Gen. Abdul Aziz Ghirat, the provincial police chief of Panjshir, said the death toll from the avalanches was expected to rise when rescue attempts resumed at sunrise Thursday.

Avalanches in the valley’s Dara district affected up to 600 families, according to people trying to reach the area to assist in rescue efforts.

“People there have told me that two of my relatives have been killed and eight others are still under the snow,” said an Afghan who goes by the single name Sharafudin. “My son and I are trying to get through to see if we can help find their bodies. But it will take us at least three or four hours to get there because of the snow and the road is very narrow, so we have to walk, the car can’t get through.”

He spoke at the mouth of the valley, where traffic moved at a crawl.

“We’ve had no help yet from the authorities, no medicines, no machinery to open the roads so we can get to the buried houses,” Sharafudin said.

Another man stuck on the highway trying to reach Dara told The Associated Press that many bodies remained in houses buried beneath feet of snow.

“We are so concerned about our relatives who are just stuck there,” said the man named Abu Muslim.

Large parts of Afghanistan have been covered in snow as a major storm interrupted an otherwise mild and dry winter.

Authorities in Parwan province closed the strategic Salang Tunnel, which links the north and south of the country, over avalanche fears. Power cables traversing the tunnel have been damaged, cutting power to much of Kabul since earlier this week.

In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani said he was “saddened by news of the avalanches and flooding across the country.” He said he had ordered urgent assessments of the extent of damage and offered his condolences to the families of the dead.

Temperatures have plummeted across the country, though the snow was expected to start melting in the Panjshir Valley and much of the mountainous northwest of the Hindu Kush range in coming days, according to forecasts.

Afghanistan has suffered through some three decades of war since the Soviet invasion in 1979. But natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches have taken a toll on a country with little infrastructure or development outside of its major cities.

In May, a massive landslide killed anywhere from 250 to 2,700 people, authorities said at the time. Another landslide in 2012 killed 71 people. Authorities were not able to recover the vast majority of bodies and ended up declaring the site a massive grave.

TIME Cricket

Afghanistan Has Just Won Their First Match at the Cricket World Cup

Cricket WCup Afghanistan Scotland
Dianne Manson—AP Afghanistan's Hamid Hassan is watched by his teammates as he performs a hand-stand after taking a catch to dismiss Scotland's Josh Davey during their Cricket World Cup Pool A match in Dunedin, New Zealand, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.

The feat is astonishing for a war-ravaged nation that only took up the sport 15 years ago

The Afghanistan cricket team created history on Thursday, winning its first match in the World Cup after a nail-biting finish.

Chasing 210 for victory against Scotland in a group match, the Afghans were in danger of collapsing when 7 of 10 batsmen got out for just 97 runs, the BBC reported.

But player of the match Samiullah Shenwari pulled the team through with a classy individual effort, adding 96 runs of his own to inspire a monumental victory with just three balls left in the game.

The feat is remarkable considering the Afghan team’s history. Cricket only began in the war-torn nation 15 years ago, and many of the players grew up in the refugee camps in neighboring Pakistan after their families were displaced by the Soviet invasion of the 1970s.

While simply qualifying for their first World Cup was a huge achievement, the maiden victory at the tournament caps a fairytale run from the sport’s lowest tier in 2008 to its biggest stage less than a decade later.

The win will no doubt have sparked wild celebrations in Afghanistan, with the country’s president Ashraf Ghani praising the team in a tweet. It also had the global cricket fraternity showing its admiration.

TIME Australia

Former Gitmo Inmate ‘Relieved’ After Terrorism Conviction Quashed

Former Australian Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks, right, in Sydney on February 19, 2015
Saeed Khan—AFP/Getty Images Former Australian Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks in Sydney on February 19, 2015

U.S. court says Australian David Hicks did not commit a war crime

Australian David Hicks announced relief after a U.S. court overturned his terrorism conviction Wednesday.

The court declared that the former Guantanamo Bay inmate did not commit a war crime, therefore his conviction was not eligible to be heard in a military court, reports the BBC.

“It’s a relief because it’s over,” Hicks said in a Sydney news conference.

Hicks, 39, pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of providing material support to terrorism. In 2000, Hicks trained with Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan and participated in an attack against Indian forces. In 2001, the Northern Alliance captured Hicks in Afghanistan, where he met Osama bin Laden and enrolled in Al-Qaeda training camps, the BBC reported.

In a rare move, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review overturned his conviction in a unanimous ruling. Under new rules, providing material support for terrorism no longer qualifies as a war crime for events prior to 2006.

Hicks was sentenced to seven years in Guantanamo Bay, but after pleading guilty, he was allowed to return to Australia after nine months. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said, “Let’s not forget whatever the legalities… he was up to no good on his own admission.”

[BBC]

TIME Afghanistan

Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Topped 10,000 in 2014

Afghan officials and mourners perform funeral prayers over the coffin of Angiza Shinwari, a provincial member, in Jalalabad on Feb. 16, 2015.
Noorullah Shirzada—AFP/Getty Images Afghan officials and mourners perform funeral prayers over the coffin of Angiza Shinwari, a provincial member, in Jalalabad on Feb. 16, 2015.

Increased ground fighting led to the highest civilian casualty rate in Afghanistan since record-keeping began in 2009

More civilians died in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the year the United Nations began keeping records in 2009, signaling a new level of violence and ground engagements between Taliban insurgents and the embattled Kabul-based government.

The U.N. said Wednesday that it documented 10,548 civilian casualties in 2014, including almost 3,700 deaths, a 25% rise in fatalities over the year before. It was the first year casualties surpassed 10,000 since record-keeping began in 2009.

The bloodshed has been caused primarily by the change in ground warfare, with fewer American-led coalition troops fighting and less air support available to keep the Taliban from massing in large groups. Afghan troops are facing the insurgents in a head-on fight, increasing casualties on the ground.

“In communities across Afghanistan, increased ground fighting among parties to the conflict and more IED attacks exacted a heavy toll on Afghan civilians,” said the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom. “Rising civilian deaths and injuries in 2014 attests to a failure to fulfill commitments to protect Afghan civilians from harm.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Is the Taliban’s fracturing a sign of its demise or a possible turn to a more lethal strategy?

By Sundarsan Raghavan in the Washington Post

2. To fight cybercrime, President Obama needs Silicon Valley.

By Katie Benner in Bloomberg View

3. The FDA needs updated systems to review drugs — made from our own cells — that target cancer and more.

By Peter W. Huber in City Journal

4. Our high incarceration rate no longer reduces crime.

By Lauren-Brooke Eisen in USA Today

5. Better than an action movie: Catch a college lecture on your next commercial flight.

By Kim Clark in Money

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Behind the Photos

The Mother Behind the Memoir: Camille Addario on Her Daughter’s Career as a War Photographer

Courtesy of Lynsey Addario Camille and Lynsey Addario circa 1976

As photojournalist Lynsey Addario unveils her memoir, her mother speaks to TIME

“People would say to me: ‘how do you let her do that?'” Camille Addario, the mother of Lynsey Addario, one of today’s preeminent conflict photographers, doesn’t hesitate to answer. “There was no way that I could stop Lynsey from following her passion. It’s like a drive that she has. It’s a calling that’s really extraordinary.”

Choosing a life as a photographer, one that has covered two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was kidnapped twice – in Iraq in 2004 and Libya in 2011, can take its toll. “I know that she suffered putting her loved ones through [the question of] ‘Why am I doing this’, but it’s a passion that just comes out of her being. And, as the mother, I’m so proud of her!”

Lynsey Addario, who just published her memoir It’s What I do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, grew up with three other sisters in a very open and communicative family set-up in Westport, Connecticut. Her parents ran a successful hair salon until they divorced and her mother worked independently as a hair dresser. “I gave them the freedom of the creativity to express themselves,” says Camille. “I was so criticized. People would say: ‘Oh my God, this woman is really crazy, she lets them write on the walls.’ I always was considered kind of like a little unconventional as far as the freedom that I gave my girls, but I felt that the values and the love and the self-esteem that I could give them, was the most important gift. Rather than telling them, you can’t do this, you can’t do that…”

But Camille never imagined that her daughter would become a war photographer.

“I remember after 9/11 she called me and she said: ‘Mom, I’m going off to Afghanistan.’ My daughter Lisa said: ‘Don’t make her feel guilty, just encourage her.’ So I said ‘Well go, have a good time’. [I] never imagined that it was going to become her lifelong passion. But she was so enthralled in the people, the history, that she returned several times that year. Lynsey’s greatest gift, is her ability to connect with the person or people that she’s photographing.”

Of course, when the battlefield becomes your daughter’s amphitheater, life can get tough. In 2004, when Lynsey was briefly abducted in Iraq, Camille received a voice mail while driving. It was from Bill Keller, the then-executive editor at the New York Times. She remembers the moment vividly. “I got on the phone, and he said: ‘Miss Addario, I’m sorry to say I have frightening news regarding your daughter Lynsey.’ And I dropped the phone.”

One hour later, the phone rang again and it was Lynsey. “She could barely speak, and she said: ‘Mom, I just want you to know that I’m safe and I will call you back.’ That was very traumatic. That was the first time.”

The second time was in Libya in March 2011, when Lynsey went missing alongside her colleagues Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks. Camille received a phone call from Hicks’ mother. “I kind of just went into shock,” she says. “And I just broke down. It [then] went from bad to worse. I got a call saying they were captured and they were being brought to prison. I just said: ‘Please God, protect my daughter’.”

“Lynsey always shared everything with me, except the things that she didn’t want me to worry about,” Camille adds. ‘[Sometimes] she would email me and say: ‘Mom, don’t get upset but I have to be fitted for a flack jacket, and I have to get a helmet,’ and I would say why? Lynsey, don’t tell me you’re going, ‘Well I’m going to be embedded, so don’t worry about it.'”

“She always let me know where she was going, but in the kindest most protective way. But I think Lynsey, she did feel kind of protective of me. She was the last one, she was single, and she wanted to make sure that I was safe and I didn’t have to worry about what she was going through.”

Courtesy Lynsey AddarioFrom left, Lukas, Lynsey, and Camille Addario

“Her communication has always been, I think, coming from her heart. She just wanted to keep me safe and assured me that I shouldn’t worry, that whatever I gave her she was giving back to me. And that again is a wonderful gift.”

When asked what it’s like to read about Lynsey’s life in her new memoir, It’s What I Do: A Photographers Life in Love and War, Camille says: “I’ve read it a hundred times now and I keep rereading it. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry a little”.

Does Lynsey make her mom see the world differently? “Absolutely! It really has opened my eyes to the importance of people realizing that how lucky we are to be free, and to be here… and to see these atrocities all over the world that we don’t have any control over.”

“She doesn’t hold back!”

Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist represented by Getty Images Reportage. Her memoir, It’s What I do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, is published by Penguin Press.

Paul Moakley is the Deputy Director of Photography at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @paulmoakley

TIME Behind the Photos

Meet the Photographer Who Found How to Balance a Life of Love and War

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario has published her first memoir

“I would never think of myself as a role model,” says Lynsey Addario. The 41-year-old, twice-kidnapped, mother-of-one, award-winning photojournalist has released, this month, her first book: an autobiography of her life as a Connecticut-born photographer who has spent the last 15 years witnessing the true human cost of war, particularly for women across the world.

And yet, even if Addario declines to be defined as a role model, with It’s What I Do, she hopes that her own experience, fraught with doubts about her intertwined professional and personal lives, will encourage other women to define their own paths. “[This book is the continuation of my work] as a messenger of experiences,” she tells TIME. “In this case, they are my own experiences.”

Addario didn’t set out to write an autobiography. Her goal, at first, was to produce a monograph of her work. “I’ve always wanted to do a photo book but I’ve never done one because I’ve never felt ready, I just didn’t feel my work was good enough,” she says. “I’ve seen so many photographers rush to do books the minute they start shooting but one great thing about photography is that the images don’t go away, so the more I sit with these images, the more I learn which ones have had the most impact.”

In a career that spanned two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and saw Addario travel to Cuba, India, Pakistan, Israel and Libya, the photographer has had many close calls. She was briefly abducted in Iraq in 2004, and was injured in a car accident in Pakistan in 2009. But, it’s her second abduction, in Libya in 2011 that has come to define, for better or worse, her career as a woman photographer – bringing with it worldwide attention to Addario’s work and the impetus for her memoir.

When Addario was released after five days in captivity, she took a step back from the frontlines, she says, and started contemplating the idea of producing her first monograph. “I was having conversations with Aperture about trying to do a photo book [until] I found out [the photojournalists] Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros had been killed in Libya. It threw me for a loop,” she says. “I had survivor’s guilt. It sort of brought back the trauma of my own experience in Libya in a way that was even exacerbated. I didn’t shun photography, but I felt I needed to tap in into something different.”

The thought of writing a book was, at first, daunting “but it wasn’t as daunting as doing a photo book,” she says. “With photography, I always think that it’s not good enough,” while writing simply involved getting the facts down on paper. “I kept journals for many years,” Addario tells TIME. “I also relied pretty heavily on email correspondence between my family, my friends and myself. So it was more of a matter of pulling all of it together.”

The result is a series of vignettes and moments that “really struck in my mind,” she says. From her first trips in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she had to play a game of cat-and-mouse with a clerk at an Islamabad embassy in order to get a visa, to her delicate relationships with men over the years, It’s What I Do, is about the difficult, and often unattainable, balance that most photographers struggle with in their professional and personal lives.

But, it’s also a book about a photographer’s commitment to her subjects, especially women, who, as Addario says, are victims of their birthplace.

“As a photographer and as a journalist, I am privy to people’s most intimate moments and it’s always been surprising by how much people open up to me,” she says. “All of these moments – women giving birth, women talking about rape – are incredibly personal and incredibly private.”

Being afforded this kind of access, Addario feels she has a responsibility to show the world what she’s seen. “I feel a huge pressure to be successful in communicating their trauma. I have to make sure that I take this information and disseminate it in a way that’s useful to them in the long term; that will prevent other women from going through what they went through. I can’t imagine not dedicating my life to trying to stop those things from happening.”

But Addario also feels guilt, she says. “Why was I so lucky to be born in Connecticut and to be offered this privileged life when so many people around the world are born into lives of extreme labor and hardship. I constantly struggle with this. Why are some people luckier than others?”

Luck almost ran out for the photographer when she was abducted, alongside her colleagues Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks in Libya on March 16, 2011. But, the experience, recounted in great details in It’s What I Do, only reinforced Addario’s commitment. “It actually gave me strength to realize that I’m not a victim,” she tells TIME. “I am a woman who makes these decisions to go to war zones. I know what the risks are. I know it’s possible that I could to get kidnapped. I know it’s possible that I could get assaulted. Those are the risks I take in order to tell these stories.”

She continues: “When I was in Libya, there are distinct moments and images that are seared in my brain that I’ll never forget: being tied up, blindfolded and groped, begging for my life, and begging for someone not to rape me. In these moments, I’ve thought so much about all the women I photographed over the years and how unbelievably strong they were. That was such a source of strength because I thought that if they could get through it when they’ve gone through so much worse, [I could get through it too].”

After her kidnapping, Addario developed a more comprehensive understanding of the people she had been covering all these years. Similarly, she says, becoming a mother was also a defining moment in her life as a photographer. “When I became a mother, I realized so much more about the mothers I’ve photographed and that love that is inexplicable for someone that doesn’t have a child.”

But Addario was ambivalent about becoming a mother, she tells TIME. “I just thought that my life was going to end and I would never be able to photograph again. I couldn’t figure it out because I didn’t have any role models, I didn’t know a single woman conflict photographer who had children.”

This lack of female role models, which has constantly plagued the male-dominated world of photojournalism, is best exemplified in the comments Addario has received over the years from readers. “Everyone is having a field day judging what a horrible woman I am, what a bad mother I am,” she says. “I find it fascinating that anyone feel like they have the right to tell me how to live my life.”

“All of these people,” she adds, “seem to forget that the places I’m photographing are rife with women and mothers. Why are they not up in arms about those women and how they have to live? I think it’s very easy to judge.”

Before writing this book, Addario knew she’d become, once again, the target of such commentary. “I knew every single person would come out of the woods and feel they have a right to judge a pregnant woman, a mother,” she says. “But where are all the people screaming at all the men who leave their pregnant wives at home and go off to a war zone? Why is there no uproar about that?”

And while Addario hopes her book will foster a dialogue, for her, the most important goal was to be honest and open about her life and her struggles. “Sometimes I’ve made mistakes,” she says, “and sometimes I haven’t, but I’ve always learned something, and that’s what I want to teach my son.”

Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist represented by Getty Images Reportage. Her memoir, It’s What I do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, is published by Penguin Press.

Cubie King, who produced this video interview, is a senior producer at TIME.

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

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. To salvage democracy in Afghanistan, leaders must make the next election really work.

By Tabish Forugh in Foreign Policy

2. In a U.S. first, New Orleans finds homes for all its homeless veterans.

By Noelle Swan in the Christian Science Monitor

3. As rich nations plan the next decade’s agenda for global development, they must bring human rights and accountability to the fore.

By the United Nations News Centre

4. Science and the media need each other. They just don’t know it yet.

By Louise Lief in the Wilson Quarterly

5. This simple Lego contraption allows scientists to safely handle insects.

By Emily Conover in Science

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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