Ethiopian journalist Solan Kolli on Tuesday won the Rory Peck prize for his coverage of the devastating conflict in the Tigray region of his home country.
The 32 year old Freelancer, won in the news category for a report commissioned by AFP on massacres of civilians.
In a video recording, Solan said the award has come to him as a surprise bearing in mind other journalists in the category has performed well in the year under review.
"I feel so proud to have received such a prestigious award. I didn't expect it because both of the finalists have also done fantastic stories. This awards means a lot to me, because it is a testament that my efforts have succeeded in shining a light in the middle of information blackouts and making the voice of Ethiopia war victims heard across borders, knocking on many doors and touching many hearts."
Kolli, who has been covering Ethiopia with video reports for seven years, was the first to show images of the mass graves at Mai-Kadra, where hundreds of civilians were massacred a year ago.
"His work was bold and brave with understated interviews, which put this very-hard-to-reach conflict in the spotlight," said the judges
"This was a truly underreported conflict," said the judges granting the award.
Kolli's work "gave context and addressed the political realities on the ground," they added.
He also carried the first interviews with the civilians at Humera, who were targeted by army artillery fire, AFP said in a statement marking the award.
"This awards means a lot to me, because it is a testament that my efforts have succeeded in shining a light in the middle of information blackouts and making the voice of Ethiopia war victims heard across borders, knocking on many doors and touching many hearts," said Kolli.
He dedicated the prize to victims of war around the world, "in particular those brave children, women and men in northern Ethiopia whose pain and suffering are featured in my news stories".
This is the fifth time since 2014 that a journalist working for AFP has won the Rory Peck prize, launched in 1995 to give freelance video journalists greater recognition. The award is in memory of Rory Peck, a video journalist killed in Moscow in 1993.
AFP was one of the first independent news media in Tigray after the conflict started in November 2020, when the Ethiopian government sent troops to topple the TPLF, the regional ruling party.
Solan was not the only journalist who was honored on the night for his outstanding reportage.
29 year old journalist, Riana Raymonde Randrianarisoa also won the Martin Adler Prize.
She expressed her appreciation to the organisers of the event. **I want to thank also the organisation, The Global Initiative (against Transnational Organised Crime, ed), who suggested my work, my name for this award. **