Image of dead refugee child wins top photographic prize

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The world in its immense beauty and agony has been captured in the winning images from the World Press Photo 2002 awards.

Nearly 50,000 pictures from more than 4,170 photographers in 123 countries were submitted for the awards, which honour the best photography from sport and the arts through to everyday life. Yesterday, the judges announced the results.

Genevieve Renson of the Geo France agency won the nature and the environment (single picture) category with her picture, "Goliath Frog Catch", taken in Cameroon last year.

Fred Vuich, of Sports Illustrated, caught an image of crowds gathered around American golfing champion Tiger Woods teeing off at the 18th hole of the Masters Golf Tournament to win the sports category.

But in a year where refugees have been repeatedly in the headlines, from Sangatte in France to those fleeing conflicts around the globe, it was a searing image of a dead refugee child that was named World Press Photo of the Year.

The Danish photographer Erik Refner, working for the Berlingske Tidende daily newspaper, took the photograph of the body of a one-year-old Afghan refugee boy as he was being prepared for burial in a Pakistan refugee camp in June last year. Drought and political tensions had forced his family to flee from northern Afghanistan but their efforts to find a new, safer life came too late for the young child. He is seen being gently washed and wrapped in a white shroud for the funeral.

Mr Refner will receive a cash prize of €10,000 (about £6,000) at an award ceremony in Amsterdam in April. The picture also won second prize as part of a sequence of photographs in the category of people in the news.

The World Press Photo organisation, which is independent and not-for-profit, was founded in the Netherlands in 1955 to support and promote the work of professional press photographers internationally. These are the 45th annual awards, selected by an international panel of picture experts that has been headed this year by a British photographer, Roger Hutchings.