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Finalist 2009

Espen Rasmussen

Africa’s world war


Internally Displaced Persons take refuge in a church in the village of Rubare, North Kivu (DRC). They have received
no assistance since arriving in the church two weeks ago. 4,000 displaced persons have recently arrived after they fled their village of Ntamugenga two weeks ago. More than 100,000 people have fled their villages and towns as fighting flared up again between rebels and the Congolese Army.

The war in DR Congo is the most deadly conflict to have taken place anywhere on earth since World War II. Bewildering in its complexity, the war officially came to an end in 2003. And yet the killing goes on. At the beginning of 2008, as a ceasefire was signed, a wide-ranging study estimated that the conflict and its associated humanitarian crisis had claimed 5.4 million victims.


Espen Rasmussen (b. 1976) is based at Nesodden, close to Oslo, Norway. He works as a photo editor / online producer in The Hub in VG, Norway's leading daily newspaper. Previously he was the photo editor in VG Helg — the weekend magazine of VG.

At the same time, he is constantly working on his photo projects. Rasmussen focuses especially on humanitarian issues and the challenges related to climate change.

He is a member of the photo agency VII.

Espen has won numerous awards for his work, including three prizes from the World Press Photo, several in the Picture of the Year International (POYi), and 45 awards in the Norwegian Picture of the Year, including Photographer of the Year in 2015, 2016, and 2018 as well as the main prize, Picture of the Year in 2004 and 2016.

In 2008 he was listed by Photo District News on the prestigious PDNs 30 — New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. In 2007, Espen received 60.000 dollars from the Freedom of Expression Foundation to continue his long-term project on refugees and IDPs around the world, which was published as the book TRANSIT in 2011, as well as a major exhibition.

Rasmussen is freelance lecturing photography at schools such as the Oslo University College and Bilder Nordic school of Photography. He is also frequently giving presentations at photo festivals and for a wide range of other audiences. For the last five years, he has been one of three editors/mentors in the Norwegian Journal of Photography (NJP).

His work has been exhibited at the Nobel Peace Center (Oslo), The Humanity House (The Hague), UNHCR headquarter (Geneva) and DokuFest international film festival (Kosovo), among other places. Clients include the New York Times, The Independent, Intelligent Life, Fader magazine, MSF (Doctors Without Borders), NRC (The Norwegian Refugee Council), and UNHCR.

His work has appeared in magazines such as Paris Match, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Der Spiegel, and The Economist, and newspapers such as The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, and the New York Times.