National Geographic : 2009 Sep
EDITOR'S NOTE PHOTO: PASCAL MAITRE It may seem like madness for a photogra- pher to repeatedly risk his life in one of the most dangerous places on Earth, but that is exactly what Pascal Maitre did on five visits to Somalia. (He photographed the street scene above in Mogadishu.) Without a stable government since 1991, the country is arguably the scene of Africa's worst humanitarian crisis. It's one of the deadliest places a journalist can be. Pascal began photographing there in 2002 and established the relationships that made this month's "Shattered Somalia" story possible. In 2008 he returned with writer Robert Draper. "When I first came to Somalia, it was terrible; we felt it couldn't be more down," Pascal told me. "I'd return, and it was even darker and more difficult. We would arrive at a feeding center. People would be happy we'd come. Five minutes later they'd say: 'Don't stay too long. The militia will shoot you.' " Despite the danger, he persisted. Accompanied by bodyguards, he'd spend time in a Mogadishu hospital where patients were so beaten down they were beyond tears. "Their eyes were dry. They were no longer crying. They have seen so much. There is no sense of normal life." To bear witness to such suffering requires the highest measure of compassion and conviction. That is why Pascal Maitre kept going back. "Somalis came up to me every day and asked, 'Why has the world abandoned us?' " he says. "I'm hoping my pictures can help just a little bit." Inspiring people to care about the planet NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Gilbert M. Grosvenor PRESIDENT AND CEO John M. Fahey, Jr. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GLOBAL MEDIA PRESIDENT Timothy T. Kelly PUBLISHING GROUP PRESIDENT John Q. Griffin NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE EDITOR IN CHIEF Chris Johns MANAGING EDITOR Victoria Pope EXECUTIVE EDITORS: Tim Appenzeller, Dennis R. Dimick, Bill Marr DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: David Griffin. DIRECTOR OF PHOTO EDITING: Kurt Mutchler. 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