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U.S. photographer John Stanmeyer wins World Press Photo of the Year

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:10 AM EST, Sat February 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • American photographer John Stanmeyer wins the World Press Photo of the Year 2013
  • His image shows African migrants in Djibouti as they seek a phone signal
  • "The photo is like a message in a bottle, it is one that will last for all of us," jury member says
  • U.S. photographer John Tlumacki recognized for Boston Marathon bombing image

(CNN) -- A haunting image by American photographer John Stanmeyer of African migrants in Djibouti has won the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year 2013 award.

The image "shows 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," the World Press Photo foundation said.

The migrants' phone screens glow against the blue-toned night sky as they raise them toward a bright full moon.

Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, is a common stop for migrants in transit from such countries as Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea seeking a better life in Europe and the Middle East, the foundation said.

Jury member Jillian Edelstein, a South African-born but UK-based photographer, said, "It's a photo that is connected to so many other stories -- it opens up discussions about technology, globalization, migration, poverty, desperation, alienation, humanity.

"It's a very sophisticated, powerfully nuanced image. It is so subtly done, so poetic, yet instilled with meaning, conveying issues of great gravity and concern in the world today."

U.S. jury member David Guttenfelder said: "The photo is like a message in a bottle, it is one that will last for all of us. People will bring their own life experiences to it as they stand in front of it."

The photo, which was shot for National Geographic magazine, also won the contemporary issues category at the annual World Press Photo contest. Stanmeyer stands to win 11,500 euros in total ($15,750.)

The winners in all eight categories, as well as the overall award, were announced in the Netherlands on Friday.

First prize in the general news category was claimed by Italian photographer Alessandro Penso, with a photograph of an emergency refugee center in an abandoned school in Sofia, Bulgaria, that is housing about 800 Syrian refugees.

French photographer Philippe Lopez won the spot news category with a striking image of survivors of Typhoon Haiyan taking part in a religious procession.

American photographer John Tlumacki, a longtime staff photographer for the Boston Globe, won second prize in that category for his image of the devastation on Boylston Street in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The competition is the leading world contest for professional press and documentary photographers.

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