RIP Camille Lepage, French photojournalist killed in Central African Republic


French journalist Camille Lepage, 26, has been killed while on a reporting assignment in Central African Republic. (Fred Dufour/Getty Images)

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.

Children walk around an open-air market in Petevo in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui, March 9, 2014. The United Nations estimates that some 650,000 people have been displaced by violence within Central African Republic, while nearly 300,000 have crossed into neighbouring countries. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: RELIGION CIVIL UNREST POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTR3GCDL
Children walk around an open-air market in Petevo in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui, March 9, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters )

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.

A Muslim woman takes refuge in a Koranic school in the majority Muslim neighbourhood "5 Kilo," in Bangui, Central African Republic, February 24, 2014. About 50 Muslims are displaced in the school waiting to be moved to a safer location. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: CONFLICT) - RTX19EMN
A Muslim woman takes refuge in a Koranic school in the majority Muslim neighborhood "5 Kilo," in Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 24, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters )

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."

Anti-balaka fighters from the town of Bossembele patrol in the Boeing district of Bangui, Central African Republic, February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: CONFLICT) - RTX19ELS
Anti-balaka fighters from the town of Bossembele patrol in the Boeing district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb.  24, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters)
Anti-balaka fighters from the town of Bossembele rest while on patrol in the Boeing district of Bangui, Central African Republic, February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: CONFLICT) - RTX19EMG
Anti-balaka fighters from the town of Bossembele rest while on patrol in the Boeing district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 24, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters)
A man tries to fix the satellite equipment at a local public television hall in Petevo in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui, March 9, 2014. The United Nations estimates that some 650,000 people have been displaced by violence within Central African Republic, while nearly 300,000 have crossed into neighbouring countries. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3GCCK
A man tries to fix the satellite equipment at a local public television hall in Petevo in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui, March 9, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters)
Models wait backstage during a fashion show organized by designer and stylist Sonia Bafonga to celebrate International Women's Day with the theme of promoting peace, in the capital of Bangui March 8, 2014. On March 8 activists around the globe celebrate International Women's Day, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century and has been observed by the United Nations since 1975. The UN writes that it is an occasion to commemorate achievements in women's rights and to call for further change. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: FASHION SOCIETY) - RTR3G9ID
Models wait backstage during a fashion show organized by designer and stylist Sonia Bafonga to celebrate International Women's Day with the theme of promoting peace, in the capital of Bangui March 8, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters)
Models prepare backstage during a fashion show organized by designer and stylist Sonia Bafonga to celebrate International Women's Day with the theme of promoting peace, in the capital of Bangui March 8, 2014. On March 8 activists around the globe celebrate International Women's Day, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century and has been observed by the United Nations since 1975. The UN writes that it is an occasion to commemorate achievements in women's rights and to call for further change. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: FASHION SOCIETY) - RTR3G9I7
Models prepare backstage during a fashion show organized by designer and stylist Sonia Bafonga to celebrate International Women's Day with the theme of promoting peace, in the capital of Bangui March 8, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters)
A mother tends to her child, who is suffering from malnutrition, at a paediatrics hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic, February 25, 2014. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST HEALTH) - RTR3FPTN
A mother tends to her child, who is suffering from malnutrition, at a paediatrics hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 25, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters)
A Seleka fighter cleans his gun on a base, where 500 Seleka fighters are confined, in Bangui, Central African Republic, February 25, 2014. According to the men, they dare not leave the base, where they agreed to confine themselves with the French and African peacekeeping missions, for fear of being killed by anti-balaka militiamen. REUTERS/Camille Lepage (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3FPTC
A Seleka fighter cleans his gun on a base, where 500 Seleka fighters are confined, in Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 25, 2014. (Camille Lepage/ Reuters)

 

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.
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