​1st Prize 新たな生活を求めて 

In Search of a New Life Photo by Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Special Prize

by Jury

Nuclear Ghosts

Photo by

Phil Hatcher-Moore


Concrete remnants of nuclear testing apparatus in the Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan, emanate out from ground-zero of the first Soviet atomic bomb. During the Cold War, 456 nuclear tests were conducted in the Polygon?the nickname for the test site?a quarter of all the world’s nuclear tests.  Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan  October 3, 2017

A family passes derelict housing blocks in the town of Kurchatov, Kazakhstan, the headquarters of the Polygon. The population of the town has more than halved since the end of the nuclear tests, and hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by the radiation emitted during the Soviet tests.  Kurchatov, Kazakhstan  October 2, 2016

Berik Syzdykov (38) eats in the apartment he shares with his mother in Semey. Berik was born with birth defects after his mother was exposed to radiation from a nuclear test when she was pregnant. He is blind, and has had several operations to reduce the swelling in his face.  Semey, Kazakhstan October 2, 2016

Kazbek Kasimov (60) herds sheep and goats in the Semipalatinsk Test Site. Some areas are still heavily contaminated with radiation, and scientists are conducting research to investigate how radiation is transmitted from the soil to plants and animals. There are many winterings dotted around the test site.  Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan October 3, 2016

Kapiza Mukanova (b. 1937) at home in the village of Saryzhal, on the edge of the Polygon. Kapiza suffers from blood pressure problems and three of her children died, which she attributes to the nuclear testing. Doctors wouldn’t let her visit her oldest child in hospital before he died.  Saryzhal, Kazakhstan  February 1, 2016

Kairat Yesimhanov (35) receives a massage from his social worker, Saniya Nurpiesova, at his home in Sulbinsk. Kairat and his younger sister, Aygul, suffer from cerebral palsy as a result of nuclear testing in the Semipalatinsk Test Site.   Sulbinsk, Kazakhstan  October 13, 2016

Rustam Janabaev (6) lies in his cot in a ward of the Children's Centre of Special Social Services in Ayagoz, eastern Kazakhstan. Rustam was born with hypdrocephalus, which can be a result of the nuclear testing.  Ayagoz, Kazakhstan  October 10, 2016

A hospital worker sits outside an operating theatre as surgeons perform an operation to remove a cancerous tumour from the large intestine of a patient at the Semey Oncology Centre in Semey, eastern Kazakhstan. The region has elevated levels of cancers associated with the nuclear testing.  Semey, Kazakhstan  October 14, 2016

A patient is prepared for a 3D IMRT treatment of a brain tumour in the Oncology Centre in Semey. The region sees higher levels of illness, due to nuclear testing in the Semipalatinsk Test Site between 1949 and 1989.  Semey, Kazakhstan  October 12, 2016

A man crosses railway tracks in Semey, the main city near the Polygon, some 150km west. Radiation from the nuclear tests drifted over to the city, and many of the people affected by the tests live in the city.  Semey, Kazakhstan  January 30, 2017


Alijan Imanbaev (9) at home on a cold, winter's afternoon in Semey. Alijan suffers from epilepsy and learning difficulties as a result of radiation from nuclear testing. His parents never lived in the zone, but his grandfather did. Scientists estimate the radiation to be transmitted through four generations.  Semey, Kazakhstan  January 27, 2017

A man walks past a giant statue of Lenin in a park in Semey. Many Soviet-era statues have been collected here. When Kazakhstan gained independence from the Soviet Union, the test site was immediately closed, but up to half a million Kazakh citizens have been affected by the tests.  Semey, Kazakhstan  February 6, 2017

Aysulu (42), left, and Kuantai (35) sit on pipes carrying hot water through Semey. The pair, both drinking vodka, live on the streets of the city, where temperatures drop well below -30°C in the harsh, bitter winter. The region sees elevated rates of depression and alcoholism.  Semey, Kazakhstan  February 6, 2017

Mikhael Meshin (69) at home in Kurchatov, after his last day of work at the Nuclear Centre. Mikhael worked to monitor radiation exposure levels in the Polygon. “We all knew the consequences of that work,” he said. "Now in the ground, you can find some plutonium and the emission of radiation.”  Kurchatov, Kazakhstan  February 9, 2017

Dusk in Saryzhal, a village on the edge of the former Semipalatinsk Test Site. During the nuclear testing in the Cold War, scientists would come to the village and measure radiation levels, and residents remember seeing many animals losing their fur due to the tests.  Saryzhal, Kazakhstan January 31, 2017