Vulture and Little Girl

by Kevin Carter (1993)

In 1993, during the second Sudanese civil war, the country was hit by famine, forcing more than a million people into starvation in South Sudan. The United Nations and other relief agencies had set up camps for the refugees In March 1993, Kevin Carter made a trip to South Sudan. During his trip, he found a weakened famine-stricken little girl, who was struggling to crawl to the feeding center set up by the United Nations but had to stop to rest. The parents of the girl were busy taking food from the same United Nations plane on which Carter had flown into Ayod. A vulture meanwhile landed behind the child. To get both into the focus and not to scare the vulture, Carter approached the scene very slowly and waited for 20 minutes hoping that the bird would spread its wings. The vulture did not spread its wings but Carter photographed the scene from 33 ft away. Carter then chased the bird away and left.

Carter did not touch the child since photojournalists were “told not to touch famine victims for fear of spreading disease”. Carter had also estimated that people were dying at the rate of twenty per hour at the food center and regarded the girl and her condition as unexceptional.

Carter sold the picture to The New York Times and it appeared for the first time on 26 March 1993 as a “metaphor for Africa’s despair”. The New York Times was contacted by several hundred people to ask if the child had survived. Carter was accused of inhumanity in not helping the child and leaving her vulnerable to attack. The criticism grew when Carter was awarded with the Pulitzer Prize for the photograph. Four months after being awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Kevin Carter committed suicide.

1 John 3:17-18

17 If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? 18 Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

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