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First finalist 2019

Javier Fergo

Zohra Sarrouj’s Last Journey


Zohra Sarrouj was 27 years old when she decided to embark on a dinghy boat for Spain. She left her six year old daughter together with her family behind in her native land, a rural village called Sidi Abdelkrim, south of Casablanca.

On a clear day, she could see Spain from Morocco. And she grew up longing to touch with her own hands what she saw so close and yet so far off in the distance. With a per capital Gross Domestic Product of less than 3.000€ as compared 25.000€ here in Spain, our country is a naturally desirable destination for many who try to make a life for themselves with scant resources and even scanter horizons in rural areas of our neighbouring Morocco.

Zohra made it to the Spanish coast, not far from the town of Conil de la Frontera. But she didn’t make it alive. Hypothermia nipped her dream of Europe in the bud in the Strait of Gibraltar. This work documents the young Moroccan’s last journey starting in Algeciras with the funeral company in charge of repatriating her corpse. It also tells the end of the story rarely seen: how the family and friends receive the last return home of those who cannot come back alive to tell about it.


Javier Fergo is a photojournalist born in Jerez, Cádiz (1980). He studied photography in the United Kingdom. On his return to Spain in 2005, he began to work with local and regional newspapers. Since 2013 he has worked freelance, both in photography and video for different Spanish and international publications and news agencies, and he is a steady contributor to The Associated Press news agency. Over the last few years, his work has focused on migration and refugees.

His reports have been displayed in several European countries as well as the USA and Russia and have been awarded prizes in a host of competitions. He has won the 2019 British Journalism Awards, third prize in the 2019 Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar - Chris Hondros Memorial Awards, and, in addition to other distinctions, the UNESCO Humanity Photo Award.