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American wins World Press Photo award with moonlit shot of African migrants holding cellphones

In this photo provided on Friday Feb. 14, 2014 by World Press Photo, the 1st prize in the Spot News Single category of the 2014 World Press Photo Contest by Phillipe Lopez, France, Agence France-Presse, shows survivors of typhoon Haiyan march during a religious procession in Tolosa, on the eastern island of Leyte, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013. One of the strongest cyclones ever recorded, Haiyan left 8,000 people dead and missing and more than four million homeless after it hit the central Philippines. (AP Photo/Phillipe Lopez, AFP) NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

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In this photo provided on Friday Feb. 14, 2014 by World Press Photo, the 1st prize in the Spot News Single category of the 2014 World Press Photo Contest by Phillipe Lopez, France, Agence France-Presse, shows survivors of typhoon Haiyan march during a religious procession in Tolosa, on the eastern island of Leyte, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013. One of the strongest cyclones ever recorded, Haiyan left 8,000 people dead and missing and more than four million homeless after it hit the central Philippines. (AP Photo/Phillipe Lopez, AFP) NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

AMSTERDAM - American photographer John Stanmeyer won the World Press Photo of the Year award for 2013 on Friday with a moonlit shot of African migrants in Djibouti holding their cellphones to the sky, seeking a better reception signal.

The 19-person jury chose 53 winning photographers in 18 categories out of nearly 100,000 submissions from around the globe for one of photojournalism's most prestigious awards.

The Associated Press won two awards, including first place in single-shot "Observed Portraits" for Markus Schreiber's picture of a disappointed woman in Pretoria, South Africa who had just learned she would not be able to view Nelson Mandela's casket.

Stanmeyer, of the VII photo agency, was working for National Geographic. The photo has a mysterious, eerie quality as the phones held by the men in the picture glow the same colour as the moon. The signal from neighbouring Somalia is cheaper, and they are hoping to send and receive messages from relatives abroad.

Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, is a common stopping point for migrants attempting to reach Europe or the Middle East.

One jury member, Jillian Edelstein, said the photo raised issues of "technology, globalization, migration, poverty, desperation, alienation, (and) humanity." Another, Susan Linfield, said it stood out for its humantic portrayal of migrants. "So many pictures of migrants show them as bedraggled and pathetic.but this photo is not so much romantic, as dignified," she said.

Among other standouts were a series by photographer Goran Tomasevic of Reuters of a rebel attack on a government checkpoint in Damascus, Syria on Jan. 30 that won first place in the "Spot News Stories" category. One black-and-white image captures the instant after a shell has landed and a fleeing man is engulfed by dust and rubble.

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