On Tuesday, the office of the French president confirmed the death of Camille Lepage, a 26-year-old French photographer, who was killed while working in the war-torn Central African Republic. Her body was found after French peacekeeping troops on patrol stopped a car driven by Christian "anti-balaka" fighters near a town in the west of the country. "Everything will be done to uncover the circumstances of this assassination and to track down who murdered our compatriot," read the statement from President François Hollande's office.
Lepage's murder marks a grim milestone: the first death of a Western journalist covering the disastrous conflict in the Central African Republic. In her last post on Instagram, Lepage said she was embedding with an anti-balaka outfit and traveling for hours down routes chosen to avoid the checkpoints of African peacekeepers. Here's the picture she posted of the fighters she was accompanying.
Though heart-achingly young, Lepage had already distinguished herself through her work over the past two years out of central Africa, first in Sudan and later in the Central African Republic. A selection of her work follows below.
Lepage maintained a keen interest in the plight of forgotten or marginalized communities that were particularly vulnerable in times of strife. The recent upheavals in Central African Republic have displaced a quarter of the country's population as political instability spiraled into an unprecedented wave of ethnic and sectarian slaughter. Much of the country's minority Muslim population has been forced to flee to neighboring countries.
In an interview with photography Web site PetaPixel, Lepage spoke passionately about the serious, sober news stories not covered by mainstream media: "I can’t accept that people’s tragedies are silenced simply because no one can make money out of them," she said. "I decided to do it myself, and bring some light to them no matter what."