African migrants on the shore of Djibouti city at night, raising their phones in an attempt to capture an inexpensive signal from neighboring Somalia—a tenuous link to relatives abroad.

An image of African migrants calling home wins an international photo award

American photographer John Stanmeyer won the World Press Photo of the Year award for his picture of African migrants in Djibouti holding their cellphones to the sky, seeking a better reception signal.

The World

In Djibouti, African migrants sometimes walk out to the beach, hold their phones in the air and hope to get a cell phone signal out of Somalia, of all places. American Photographer John Stanmeyer took a photo of that scene last year and on Friday it was chosen as the "World Press Photo of the Year." 

Gary Knight, founder of the VII Photo Agency, chaired the award jury. He called the winning image a "hopeful" photo.

“I have no idea what the photographer meant to represent, I have no idea what these men were thinking at the top, but the way the jury responded to this photograph was that it was a moment of hope born from despair," Knight said.

Another jury member praised the picture for portraying the migrants as "dignified," instead of "bedraggled and pathetic". Stanmeyer took his prize-winning shot for National Geographic. Almost 100,000 images by more than 5500 photographers from 132 countries were entered in the contest.

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