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Yannis: extreme survivor, passionate professional

It’s a truly tragic irony that Yannis Behrakis should die of illness, still relatively young, after three decades of high risk assignments in so many conflict and disaster zones. He was a great survivor, living through all kinds of danger to record some of the most extreme events of our times.

My personal memories of Yannis are more peacetime but also professional. A generous colleague, he gave valuable support to the Reuter Foundation’s journalism training and charitable work. He was hugely enthusiastic about passing on his experience to the next generation of photographers and bringing on his successors.

Yannis also provided practical help and technical advice for the Foundation’s programme of exhibitions of Reuters photographs, highlighting in particular the plight of refugees. For the showing in Athens, which he had personally organized, I asked him to speak, to introduce the event.

Initially he refused. “I talk all the time,” he said, “but not in public.”

But he was persuaded and he did speak, passionately and vividly, about his work and his experiences. It was a very moving occasion.

A fine colleague and a great professional. RIP Yannis. ■