marcus bleasdale – the rape of a nation

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Marcus Bleasdale

The Rape of a Nation

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to the deadliest war in the world today. An estimated 5.4 million people have died since 1998, the largest death toll since the Second World War, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

IRC reports that as many as 45,000 people die each month in the Congo. Most deaths are due to easily preventable and curable conditions, such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, and neonatal problems and are byproducts of a collapsed health care system and a devastated economy.

The people living in the mining towns of eastern Congo are among the worst off. Militia groups and government forces battle on a daily basis for control of the mineral-rich areas where they can exploit gold, coltan, cassiterite and diamonds.

After successive waves of fighting and ten years of war, there are no hospitals, few roads and limited NGO and UN presence because it is too dangerous to work in many of these regions. The West’s desire for minerals and gems has contributed to a fundamental breakdown in the social structure.



Marcus Bleasdale was born in the UK to an Irish family, in 1968.  He grew up in the north of England and initially studied economics and started work as an investment banker. Although he was a director in a large international bank he resigned in the mid 1990s and began to travel through the Balkans with his camera. He returned to study photojournalism at the prestigious London School, during which time he won the Ian Parry, Young photographer Award for his work on the conflict in Sierra Leone. He has established himself as one of the worlds leading documentary photographers concentrating on Conflict and Human Rights. He has been awarded many of the worlds highest honors for his work and continues to highlight the effects of conflict on society. He is a member of the photo agency VII. He lives with his wife Karin Beate in Oslo, Norway.


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Marcus Bleasdale


Editor’s note:

Comments are open on this essay… If you have any questions, feel free to ask Marcus, he will be jumping in on the comments soon…It is with great pleasure that I present Marcus Bleasdale on Burn through Matthieu Rytz from Anthropographia… Marcus Bleasdale is the recipient of the Anthropographia Award for Photography and Human Rights… Many thanks Matthieu for your ongoing efforts…

… david alan harvey

61 Responses to “marcus bleasdale – the rape of a nation”

  • Marcus, I deeply appreciate the work you do, and how you you’ve combined your clarity of purpose with personal vision to affect change. If you have any insights on creating advocacy based work at such a high level (practical, artistic and distribution, all) I would love to hear.

    Also, to all, Marcus’ work in Mother Jones this month is so well featured, and I encourage anyone who can to pick up a copy and read the article.

    again, thank you…Erica McDonald

  • Marcus, “If there were no minerals in this region there would be no long term funding for the conflict. If there was no funding then there would be no weapons, no weapons, no war.”. I’m reminded of Martin Parr’s photographs of an Arms Fair: what are the chances of you being allowed to exhibit at such an event? It would be something, wouldn’t it?



  • Marcus,
    Very nice work. The opening image really caught my eye. It’s reminiscent of an MC Escher drawing. I like the power of the repetition of the human form. It’s surreal.

  • Macus… too much I’d like to say and love to ask, but it just would seem trivial in the circumstance. Can say well done in your consistency and dedication. No running in and out with you by the looks of it. So sincerely , well done.
    keep yourself safe and take care.

    potential catastrophe?
    what do you think marcus – too soon or timely move?

  • Truly moving photos, they fall into that category of a perfect stunning photo which depicts a harrowing scene we dont really want to see.

  • For two days more in Geneva, Switzerland, then Montreal and New York, for the dates check out here (scrolling down a bit):

    Not easy. But so important.

  • great book…

    What always shocks me about it is the timeline at the end. It seems to start forever-ago, and goes right up to yesterday.

  • jenny lynn walker

    Back looking at Image 21 on here – the image I love so much. I can look at it again and again and again. That boy taking a shower – pure ecstacy in a moment! The intensity of his full-on smile, that splashing of water we all love, connecting with that feeling and then picturing myself in the context of that place and the heavy and sullen faces me and what I have to face in that day. Something so small as a shower can lift spirits on a heartbeat, albeit temporary – and there is such beauty in that and, such sadness at the same time. The composition, the light, how all the elements fit together in the frame, and that very moment. Yes, the beez kneez.

    Image 23. Taking the position of the mother for a moment. At home with my baby in my arms, waiting for the men bringing the coffin. My baby! Whose life in this world was one month less than the time she spent inside me. No, I can’t imagine but I am trying and feel my heart is aching. There are so many un-necessary deaths from easily-preventable illnesses in this world. Some argue that there are too many babies – let them. I am just thinking of the suffering – of so many mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters in the world.

  • Marcus this is a unique reportage, some shots are very strong and courageous like the # 16. compliments

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