The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the deadliest war in the world today. During 15 years of fighting, more than five million people have died, most from lack of access to food or basic health care. The violence is driven by ethnic divisions and fierce competition for control over the country’s vast natural resources.
Finbarr O’Reilly spent two years in the Congo and neighbouring Rwanda from 2002 to 2004, covering the region as a writer for Reuters. In October 2008, a fresh upsurge of violence brought him back to the Congo, this time as a photographer.
O’Reilly wanted to explore not only the country’s experience of loss and misery, but also the strength and perseverance of the Congolese people. Despite the demand for quick news pictures, O’Reilly tried to slow things down by using a low depth of field to capture intimate portraits of the people he met. In doing so, he hopes to extract his subjects from their surroundings and portray them as individuals with names and stories. This exhibition, produced by Reuters in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières, Canada, the world’s leading independent international medical organisation, aims to show the role photography can play in the promotion of humanitarian values. See Talks for information about the panel discussion.