2020 Photo Contest, Contemporary Issues, 1st Prize

The Longest War


Lorenzo Tugnoli

Contrasto, for The Washington Post

11 December, 2019

A Taliban fighter sits in a car in Khogyani, Afghanistan, in the morning.

The Taliban made significant territorial gains and increased their influence in Afghanistan in 2019. Eighteen years after the US invasion, and five years since the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have been responsible for securing Afghanistan, the Taliban control or contest around half the country, in some districts acting as a shadow government. Peace talks begun in January appeared to be nearing agreement in August, but were scuppered by US president Donald Trump in September. Fighting escalated during talks as both sides tried to gain leverage, while on the ground the talks provided the Taliban with increasing political legitimacy. The frequency and spread of Taliban violence left the ANDSF overstretched and in some cases overwhelmed, with a high casualty rate. The escalation of the conflict also severely impacted the civilian population, resulting in high casualties, forced displacement, extreme insecurity, lack of access to education and a weakened public health system. A report published in June 2019 by the Institute for Peace and Economics named Afghanistan as the world’s “least peaceful” country, replacing Syria, though by early 2020 it seemed that a peace agreement was once again a possibility.

About the photographer

Lorenzo Tugnoli

Lorenzo Tugnoli (1979) is a self-taught Italian photographer based in Lebanon who covers the Middle East and Central Asia.  He worked extensively around the Middle East b...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Sony ILCE-7RM2

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