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Moscow's homeless children - Hanna Polak, winner of 3rd prize in UNICEF Photo of the year international competition

3rd Prize International competition “UNICEF Photo of the Year” awarded to Hanna Polak

Moscow´s homeless children

Photo: Hanna Polak, Poland, Freelancer

Roma (4 years old), Svieta (5 years old), Sergiey (12 years old) are living during the fall and winter on hot pipes. The place is filthy and very humid. There are plenty of rats, almost no light, except home made candles. During daytime children beg in the subway.

The Polish photographer Hanna Polak accompanied homeless children in Moscow. Alcoholic parents, poverty - stricken homes, and, in many cases, family violence, force children out of their homes and onto the streets, usually ending their dreams of a better life.

The children come to Moscow from all over the former Soviet Republic. Some are lucky to find a simple trade to earn a living, but most survive by begging, stealing, and prostitution. They sleep in underground sewage tunnels, on hot water pipes, in abandoned attics and staircases. Some live in garbage containers or build shacks at garbage dumps. These “invisible” children of Russia get addicted to drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol at a very young age, many as early as four or five years old. If not from drugs, many homeless Russian children perish at the hands of pedophiles, or from hunger and frost during extreme Russian winters. Some attempt suicide and many succeed. Those who survive are doomed for degradation, and, in most cases, join the ranks of a great army of young criminals.

For the "UNICEF Photo of the Year" competition, entries were invited from throughout the world, 111 photographers from 28 countries submitted a total of 1,034 pictures.

This year, the jury, under the chairmanship of Klaus Honnef, professor for the theory of photography, chose the winners of the first, second and third prize and made nine other honorable mentions.

Presenting this award for the seventh time, UNICEF is honoring photographs of high artistic and photojournalistic quality that capture the living conditions of children. The competition is supported by the magazine GEO and Citibank Germany.

Read about the other winners of UNICEF Photo of the Year competiton



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