2000 Pulitzer Prize, Feature Photography, Carol Guzy, Lucian Perkins and Michael Williamson
By the thousands, they come. Ragged, weary, fleeing the Serbs. A tidal wave of ethnic Albanians trying to cross from Kosovo into Macedonia and Albania. But there are no welcome signs.
Aid workers set up primitive tent camps. There is little food, water and few medical supplies. The refugees, mostly women, children and the elderly, wait in limbo.
Washington Post photographers Carol Guzy, Michael Williamson and Lucian Perkins spend two months in the camps. Interpreters help them understand the plight and despair. "No still picture," Guzy says, "could possibly convey their tears and pain or the hell from which they had come." Yet the photographers capture it as best they can.
Guzy crosses the border at Morina with refugees headed for a transit camp in Kukcs, Albania. Stripped of their possessions, they wait to get in. On either side of the camp fence, members of the Shala family unite. They pass 2-year-old Akim Shala through the fence. Guzys camera captures the baby sliding through the barbed wire into the hands of his loving grandparents.
Perkins and an estimated 70,000 refugees are near Macedonia in a no mans land called Blace. There is no shelter. Disease is spreading. Families try to get out. But border guards allow only a trickle of refugees to leave. Cameras swinging from his neck, Perkins hides behind a truck and slips past camp guards. He photographs sorrow and desperation.
Williamson is in Velika Krusa, Kosovo, covering the havoc wrought by Serbs. In a burned-out house, Qamil Duraku sits on a bucket, looks up and says, "You’re here. You finally came." The man thinks the photographer is a war crimes investigator there to document the deaths of his cousins. In each hand he holds pieces of his relatives, body parts the Serbs had torched. He cries, "Why did they do this? Why?" Williamson tries to comfort Duraku. He can’t. He takes his photograph.