The stories of refugees and migrants feature prominently in the work of finalists of this year’s Rory Peck Awards, which include four Channel 4 documentaries and two Vice programmes.

The Rory Peck Awards honour the work of freelance cameramen and camerawomen in news and current affairs.

The line-up includes new and returning finalists from eight countries, including freelancers from Syria and the UK.  

The work is split into three categories: News, News Features and the Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs.

“The work of this year’s finalists shows very clearly that freelancers are at the forefront of news and current affairs, uncovering stories that shape the agenda, inform our lives, challenge our views and inspire us to act,” said Rory Peck Trust director Tina Carr.

“Their curiosity, bravery and dedication is inspiring, but as journalists around the world continue to be targeted, freelancers are the most vulnerable - many still work alone without any backup.

“We recognise the value of freelancers and we are proud to support them through the awards and through our work at the Trust.”

This year’s winners will be announced at the Rory Peck Awards ceremony which takes place at London’s BFI Southbank on Wednesday 7 December. 

The finalists

Rory Peck Award for News

Waad Al Kateeb (Syrian)

A Life in the Day of Aleppo

  • Shot in Syria, May 2016
  • Self-funded. Broadcast by Channel 4 News / ITN

Waad’s entry (pictured) focuses on the lives of one family caught up in the Syrian conflict.

As the bombing of Aleppo intensified in May 2016, three young brothers went out to play and were hit by an air strike.

They ended up at the al-Quds hospital where freelance camerawoman Waad (not her real name) - a 24 year old mother living in Aleppo - was filming doctors at work.

Nabil Hassan (Yemeni)

The Battle for Aden

  • Shot in Yemen, June to August 2015
  • Commissioned and broadcast by Agence France Presse

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab air forces began air strikes on Iranian-backed Shia Houthi rebel forces in Yemen as they moved to seize the port of Aden where President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi had taken refuge.

Three months later, Nabil - a 32 year old freelance video journalist and former mechanic - was embedded with the loyalists, the local anti-rebel militiamen from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), as they fought to recapture the southern port city from the rebels.

Will Vassilopoulos (Greek)

Fear and Desperation: Refugees and Migrants Pour into Greece

  • Shot in Greece, October 2015 – March 2016
  • Commissioned and broadcast by Agence France Presse

Since 2015, Greece has become one of the main entry points into Europe for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war, poverty and persecution. Will’s footage shows desperate migrants and refugees arriving on its shores from Turkey, in overcrowded, rickety boats and rubber dinghies and their rescue from open water in the middle of the night.

His entry is focussed on the island of Lesbos which has seen the highest number of arrivals, and on the makeshift, sprawling Idomeni camp on Greece’s northern border with Macedonia.

Rory Peck Award for News Features

Lottie Gammon (British)

Tracking Down Macedonia’s Refugee Kidnap Gangs

  • Shot in Hungary, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, May 2015
  • Commissioned and broadcast by Channel 4 News / ITN

Lottie’s film exposes an organised criminal network of people smugglers, kidnapping and extorting money from refugees crossing from Greece into Macedonia en route to Serbia.

Following a tip-off from a victim, Lottie - a freelance documentary director and journalist - and reporter Ramita Navai tracked down the house where hundreds of refugees were being held against their will, and unearthed evidence of corruption by local police and customs officials turning a blind eye to the trade.

Ayman Oghanna (British) and Warzer Jaff (American)

The Road to Fallujah

  • Shot in Iraq, April 2016
  • Commissioned and broadcast by Vice News

After 18 months of careful negotiation with Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism force known as the Golden Division, Ayman secured an unprecedented level of access for him and Warzer to embed with the unit on the front lines as it fought to take back control of towns and cities across Anbar Province.

​Marco Salustro (Italian)

Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die

  • Shot in Libya, June 2015
  • Commissioned and broadcast by Vice News

Thousands of refugees and migrants desperately seeking a better life in Europe travel to Libya to cross the Mediterranean sea every month.

Marco secured repeated first-hand access to an unofficial detention camp in Tripoli, where he witnessed the local militia detain, abuse and mistreat migrants, forcing them to live in sub-human conditions.

​Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs

Marcel Mettelsiefen (German)

Children on the Frontline: The Escape

  • Shot in Syria, Turkey and Germany, July 2013 until April 2016
  • Part self-funded. ITN Productions for Channel 4 Dispatchesin association with ZDF and WGBH

In 2013, Marcel - who was raised in Spain and Germany - spent nine months filming the moving story of the children of a leading rebel commander in Aleppo whose lives had been changed forever by the war in Syria.

In this second film, he returns to follow the fortunes of the three young sisters and their brother after the capture of their father by Isis.

Paul Salahadin Refsdal (Norwegian)

Dugma: The Button

  • Shot in Syria, December 2014 – June 2015
  • Funded by the Norwegian Film Institute, Viken Filmsenter and Fritt Ord. Broadcast on NRK

Paul - who specialises in reporting with insurgent groups - spent months inside rebel-controlled Northern Syria securing unprecedented access to film with Jabhat al Nusra, the local branch of al-Qaida.

The result is an intimate portrait of a group of suicide bombers in waiting. In sharp contrast to how al-Qaida likes to portray themselves, the characters in this film are not just soldiers, but human beings with weaknesses, faults and self-doubt.

Ben Steele (British)

The Children Who Beat Ebola

  • Shot in Sierra Leone, January – April 2015
  • Blakeway TV Productions for Channel 4 Dispatches

This is an intimate, heart-breaking portrait of life after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa told from the perspective of five children living through and surviving a disease that has taken their parents, siblings and other family members.

Filmed over four months, Ben - a Rory Peck Award winner in 2014 - follows the events in these children’s lives from the time the infection rate peaked in Sierra Leone, filming with families in quarantine, showing the impact of the devastation on individual young lives.