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Adriane Ohanesian: The Forgotten Mountains, rebel-controlled Darfur, Sudan

Artist’s Statement:

In the Marra Mountains of Darfur, Sudan, hundreds of thousands of women and children hide in caves to escape ground attacks and aerial bombardment by their own government’s forces. The bombing of civilians, the burning of villages, and the mass rape of women and girls is a daily occurrence. Food and water are scarce, and most people are surviving on tea and a few potatoes each day. Mothers often go without food in an attempt to keep their children from crying of hunger. The mountains are now one of the only remaining sanctuaries for the people to hide, and if the Sudanese troops break through the lines of defense, the ethnic cleansing campaign that started in 2003 may be brought to completion.

While the flourishing capital city of Khartoum was funded by oil money from the predominantly Arab government, none of these benefits reached the outskirts of Sudan. The people of Darfur remained impoverished on a scale that few would be able to comprehend: no running water, no electricity, no education, no healthcare. They had nothing to lose by standing up and demanding attention from their government. Native African tribes from Darfur clashed with the all-powerful Arab regime of President Bashir. Horrifying accounts of human rights abuses in Darfur led to the indictment of Sudan’s President Bashir by the International Criminal Court with ten counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, yet he remains in power.

The Government continues to deny the international community, relief workers, the United Nations, and journalists from entering into the rebel-held territory. The war in Darfur has claimed half a million lives and displaced three million people. The international community has declared genocide in the region, and, yet, even as the ethnic cleansing continues, it seems that no one is watching.

Artist’s Bio:

Born in upstate New York, Adriane received her B.A. in cultural anthropology and conflict resolution from Colorado College and graduated from the International Center of Photography’s photojournalism and documentary photography program in 2010. Upon the completion of her degree, she moved to Sudan and has been photographing mainly in Africa ever since.

In 2012, Adriane began covering the news in South Sudan for Reuters. She has continued to document the civil war in South Sudan, fighting in Somalia, clashes in Burundi, and most recently the conflict in Darfur, Sudan.

Adriane attended the Eddie Adams workshop in 2014, where she received an award from National Geographic. She has also been recognized as one of Magnum Photo’s top ’30 under 30’ and received LensCulture’s Emerging Talent award her photographs of women soldiers in rebel-controlled Kachin, Myanmar. In 2015, Adriane was selected as one of Getty Images Emerging Photographers, and in 2016 she won a World Press Photo award for her work in Darfur. Adriane’s photographs have been published by Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and TIME. Adriane is a freelance photographer based out of Nairobi, Kenya.