THE BEST 12 PHOTOS OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS

Almost 20 years after landmines were banned, they still destroy lives every day. 

Parents fear for their children walking to school. Farmers can't plough their land. Families are trapped in poverty, unable to build a future for their children.

At MAG, we believe that everyone has the right to live in safety and free from fear. We have to help conflict-affected communities to get on with their lives and rebuild their livelihoods.

MAG photographer Sean Sutton has documented the issueswhat MAG does, and who we help in more than 20 countries. Below, he picks his favourite photos from the last year, giving the reasons for his choices and the stories behind the pictures.

We hope you will share this page on social media, to help spread the word that more needs to be done, faster, to free people from fear.

1. YAZIDI NEW YEAR ON MOUNT SINJAR

Yazidi New Year on Mount Sinjar

Iraq, May 2016

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"This New Year’s celebration had particular significance, due to  horrors faced by the Yazidi population in Iraq that we have all read about. New Year’s Day, marking the beginning of 6672, begins with a banquet to honour the dead. At dawn, all Yazidi women go to the nearby cemeteries and transform the graves into tables containing many plates of food, coloured eggs, red flowers and framed photos of the deceased, as they eulogise each one with mournful singing and wailing. Afterwards, tablecloths are spread on the ground between the graves, and the women feast upon the offered food. The egg represents the earth – the yolk being the earth itself and the egg white representing earth’s atmosphere. How long have they known that the earth is round, I wonder?" 

 Watch now: 'Iraq's Cluster Bomb Legacy'


2. A RISKY JOURNEY

A heavily loaded truck in Chad

Chad, December 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"Colleagues told me that the route this truck is taking is very risky, as it goes through some of Chad's huge minefields. They go this way to avoid checkpoints where tax is charged. Over a six-week period before this photograph was taken, three vehicles hit anti-tank mines, killing scores of people."

 View now: Chad Photo Gallery


 

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Please make a donation... or click "Regular gift" to set up a monthly, quarterly or annual gift by Direct Debit. Thank You!

 


3. WALKING IN SAFETY 

Villagers on a cleared minefield in South Sudan

South Sudan, November 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"It is incredible to think that this was a terribly dangerous place a couple of months previously. Now it will provide the community in Nyolo village, South Sudan with safe access to water, and land to grow corn and sorghum. An accident happened here a year earlier. Two boys were playing and one of them stepped on a landmine. He died and the other boy hasn’t recovered physiologically. The village leader told me that this will now be an area of peace, an area where people can grow and prosper."

 Watch now: The Most Important Lesson These Children Will Ever Learn


4. FATIMA, TEAM LEADER

Fatima, Mine Action Team leader in Lebanon

Lebanon, June 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"I have photographed Fatima a number of times over the last few years. She is a very tough woman and I have a lot of respect for her. She is divorced with two children and is the only bread-earner in her family. By working as a deminer in Lebanon, she has set an example for other women: that a woman can do a potentially dangerous job that most believe is only suitable for men. Since she and a handful of other women started working in demining a few years ago, many more have joined them. More than 20% of MAG’s demining staff in Lebanon today are women."

 View now: 'Beneath The Visor - The Women Clearing Cluster Bombs'


5. DAILY LIFE IN SOUTH SUDAN

Village on a former mined area in South Sudan

South Sudan, November 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"This picture says so much to me. This place was a minefield. I had been here two years before and seen mines being found on this spot. And now people are able to come home and build a new house, grow food and send their children safely to school. There are still a lot of problems in South Sudan, but this scene really warms my heart and for me makes it all worthwhile."


6. CHILDREN IN IRAQ

Children in Iraq play a game on a phone

Iraq, October 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"Here, children in Iraq are absorbed by a game on a smartphone, just like kids anywhere else – except that their neighbourhood is utterly destroyed and their former playgrounds seeded with explosives." 


RELATED PAGES

 More photos from Sean Sutton

 Infographic: Our impact in 2015

 Find out more about MAG

 How to get involved


 

7. MORE LIVES SAVED

Demolition of landmines in Chad

Chad, December 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"In this photo from northern Chad, a team leader tells everyone to stay down after setting off a demolition to destroy 12 anti-tank mines found by MAG that morning. I was lying down on the sand and took the picture with a very wide-angle lens. The explosion rippled through the sound and felt like it lifted me off the ground."


8. INNOCENT VICTIMS OF CURIOSITY

Injured boys in Iraq

Iraq, May 2016

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"One of the most difficult sides to my job is spending time with young victims of curiosity. This group of kids found something metallic and shiny when they were playing football in Iraq. They were all terribly injured and lucky to survive. The father of one of the boys, Ali, told me, harrowingly: “His life will never be the same again. The explosion blew his eye out and it was on the ground. He saw his own eye on the ground. No child should experience that.” The boys were still in shock when I met them two months after the accident. The family kept repeating that this should never have happened. Sadly it happens somewhere in the world every day. MAG is the solution and for that I am so proud of what we do."


9. OFF-ROAD IN CHAD

Ancient acacia tree in Chad

Chad, December 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"One of the most interesting trips in the last year was to Chad. This involved driving all the way up to the north of the country across the
Sahara desert, 3,300 kilometres off-road. The landscape was amazing and continually changing, the conditions extremely harsh. I was told this ancient acacia tree is particularly old. They can live for thousands of years, so I’d love to know how old this one was."


10. A GRIEVING FATHER

Father of a landmine victim in Iraq

Iraq, May 2016

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"A village in Iraq had been suffering terribly from the homemade landmines planted nearby. The community had lost dozens of sheep to the blasts and, tragically, a young shepherd called Omar was killed as he tried to mark the dangerous areas with mounds of stones to warn others. Here, Ahmed points to where his son was killed. People in the village were overjoyed when the MAG teams came to help, and insisted on preparing a feast for all the staff. It was a very humbling experience."


11. PART OF THE COMMUNITY

A MAG community liaison officer in South Sudan

South Sudan, November 2015

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"I always try to capture as much as possible from the perspective of the community and, not surprisingly, spend a lot of time with MAG’s Community Liaison staff. As I was walking along a track through Gunyoro village in South Sudan with team leader John, he shook the hand of this little girl. It was a lovely moment and I feel it illustrates how close John is to the community."


12. A HOME AWAITS ITS OWNERS' RETURN

An empty kitchen in Iraq

Iraq, May 2016

Photo: MAG/Sean Sutton

"A man took us into his house in Iraq to show us an unexploded rocket that had come through the roof, and was stopping his family – who were living in a camp for internally displaced people – from coming home. I noticed that there was still washing up in the sink and everything was covered in dust. The man told me that this was just as they left it when they fled the fighting two years earlier."

 

 

Page published: 12 August 2016

A MAG community liaison officer in South Sudan