Yannis Behrakis is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who has worked for Reuters since 1987. Over the last 25 years, he has photographed major moments in history including the funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the changes in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the civil conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, the wars in Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the two Gulf Wars, and the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. He has also covered earthquakes in Kashmir, Turkey, Greece and Iran. For many years, he has photographed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in 2008 he moved with Reuters to Jerusalem as the chief photographer for Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In 2010 he returned to Greece to cover the financial crisis, where he has remained to cover the refugees arriving in his homeland in 2015. "I have been covering refugees and migrants for over 25 years, but this year has been different: migrants are arriving in my homeland" Behrakis said in an interview for the Guardian newspaper which chose him as their photographer of the year in 2015. Of his work documenting the refugee crisis in 2015 he said, "The least challenging part of this year was taking pictures. The biggest struggle was the emotional involvement ... it was so sad to see the same thing again and again... No one expected there to be so many of them. But most Greeks have some refugee blood, and locals realised these people only wanted to use Greece as a stepping-stone to go north. I want to express my gratitude to all the Greek and foreign volunteers who helped in the islands and the northern border. You prove that humanity is alive!"
Yiannis Behrakis was born in Athens in 1960. He studied photography at the Athens School of Arts and Technology and received his BA (Honours) in arts by Middlesex University. He is the seven-time recipient of the Greek National Fuji Awards "Photographer of the Year," and the three-time winner of the European News Photographer of the Year awarded by the European Fuji Awards. In 2012 and 2015 he won awards in the POYi (pictures of the Year international) by the Missouri University. In 2004, 2009, 2013 and 2015 he won awards in the China International Press Photo Contest and in 2015 he won the Gold award in the prestigious Days in Japan photojournalism competition. In 2016, Behrakis and his team were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for their work covering Middle Eastern migrants arriving in Europe.
A Syrian refugee kisses his daughter as he walked for hours through a rainstorm to reach Greece's border with FYRO-Macedonia, near the Greek village of Idomeni, September 10, 2015. Thousands of refugees and migrants, including many families with young children, have been left soaked after spending the night sleeping in the open in torrential rain on the Greek- FYRO Macedonian border. About 7,000 people waited in the mud at an open field near the northern Greek village of Idomeni to cross the border, with more arriving in trains, buses and taxis, as FYRO Macedonian police has imposed rationing in the flow of refugees.
A stranded migrant keeps warm by an open fire at a makeshift camp close to a registration center on the Greek island of Lesbos, November 18, 2015. UNHCR has appealed to the Greek authorities to create additional accommodation and reception capacity as a matter of urgency since there are currently only 2,800 reception places for the 12,000 refugees and migrants currently on the island.
Courtesy of Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
Migrants and refugees beg FYRO Macedonian policemen to allow passage to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia during a rainstorm, near the Greek village of Idomeni, September 10, 2015.Thousands of refugees and migrants, including many families with young children, have been left soaked after spending the night sleeping in the open in torrential rain on the Greek- FYRO Macedonian border. About 7,000 people waited in the mud of an open field near the northern Greek village of Idomeni to cross the border, with more arriving in trains, buses and taxis, as FYRO Macedonian police has imposed rationing to the flow of refugees.
Courtesy of Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
As the sun rises a dinghy overcrowded with Syrian refugees drifts in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece after its motor broke down while traveling from the Turkish coast to the Greek island of Kos, August 11, 2015. A Greek coast guard responded to distress signals and arrived at the scene to help.