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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 was a talented photojournalist born in Jerez, Cádiz in 1980. He studied photography in the UK before returning to Spain in 2005 to work with local and regional newspapers. In 2013, he began working as a freelance photographer and videographer for various Spanish and international publications and news agencies, including The Associated Press.

Over the past several years, Fergo's work has focused on migration and refugees and has been exhibited in several countries across Europe, the United States, and Russia. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2019 British Journalism Awards, third prize in the 2019 Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar - Chris Hondros Memorial Awards, and the UNESCO Humanity Photo Award. Fergo passed away on September 6, 2022.