In 2020, AP photographers captured a world in distress

YE_Top_Photos_2020_90747 Migrants flee from the second fire in two days at the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on Sept. 9, 2020.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_05166 Josefa Ribas, 86, who is bedridden and suffers from dementia, is attended to by nurse Laura Valdes during a home care visit in Barcelona, Spain, on April 7, 2020. Ribas' husband, Jose Marcos, fears what will happen if the coronavirus enters their home and infects them. "I survived the post-war period (of mass hunger). I hope I survive this pandemic," he said.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_64380 President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he stands outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House in Washington on June 1, 2020, after law enforcement officers used tear gas and other riot control tactics to forcefully clear peaceful protesters from the area.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_51919 Cuban singer Cimafunk hugs a woman during a music conga through the streets of Cuba's Old Havana neighborhood during the 35th Havana International Jazz Festival on Jan. 15, 2020.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_37208 Protesters storm the San Francisco de Borja church, which belongs to the Carabineros, Chile's national police force, in Santiago, Chile, on Oct. 18, 2020, the first anniversary of the start of anti-government mass protests over inequality.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_39652 Swarms of desert locusts fly into the air from crops in Katitika village in Kenya's Kitui county on Jan. 24, 2020. In the worst outbreak in a quarter-century, hundreds of millions of the insects swarmed into Kenya from Somalia and Ethiopia, destroying farmland and threatening an already vulnerable region.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_78011 Sneakers and a Los Angeles Lakers jersey with the number 8 worn by NBA star Kobe Bryant hang at a memorial for Bryant in Los Angeles on Feb. 2, 2020, a week after he was killed in a helicopter crash.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_77869 A woman wearing a mask to protect against infection from COVID-19 is reflected in a tinted chapel window, along with a metal casing said to contain the remains of St. Dimitrie of Basarabov, the patron saint of the Romanian capital, in Bucharest, Romania on Oct. 25, 2020. The feast of St. Dimitrie of Basarabov, which usually lasts for a week and draws up to 100,000 people, was cut way back this year due to the coronavirus.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_65988 An emergency crew recovers the body of a boy killed in a government airstrike in the city of Idlib, Syria on Feb. 11, 2020.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_95564 A reveler dressed in a Spider-Man costume strikes a pose at the "Ceu na Terra" or Heaven on Earth street party in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Feb. 22, 2020, during the Carnival celebration.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_00607 One-year-old Yazan has his oxygen mask removed after heart surgery at the Tajoura National Heart Center in Tripoli, Libya, on Feb. 27, 2020. Yazan's perilous trek from his small desert hometown culminated in a five-hour surgery. He is one of 1,000 children treated by Dr. William Novick's group since it first came to Libya after the 2011 uprising.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_34267 A model wears a creation for the Givenchy fashion collection during Women's fashion week Fall/Winter 2020/21 presented in Paris on March 1, 2020.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_45682 A child wearing a mask to protect against the coronavirus rests on the bank of the Yangtze River in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on April 16, 2020.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_03639 Rescue workers and local residents search for survivors in the wreckage of a plane that crashed with nearly 100 people onboard in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan, on May 22, 2020.
YE_Top_Photos_2020_15550 People stand in their balconies during a nationwide confinement to counter the coronavirus in Barcelona, Spain on March 29, 2020.

Behold, a world in distress:

A 64-year-old woman weeps, hugging her husband as he lay dying in the COVID-19 unit of a California hospital. A crowded refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, engulfed in flames, disgorges a string of migrants fleeing this hell on Earth. Rain-swept protesters, enraged by the death of George Floyd in police custody, rail against the system and the heavens.

This is the world that Associated Press photographers captured in 2020, a world beset by every sort of catastrophe — natural and unnatural disaster, violent and non-violent conflict.

And, in every corner of that world, the coronavirus.

There are the living: Women cover themselves head to toe with chadors, protective clothing and gas masks to prepare a body for burial in Iran. An octogenarian couple kiss through plastic in Spain.

There are the dead: Relatives, traveling by night and by boat, travel down a Peruvian river to bring a body home for burial. Row upon row of new graves are dug in the largest cemetery in Latin America.

And there are those who negotiate the grim space between life and death — among them, 16 Italian doctors and nurses exhausted from their labors, their faces haunted and haunting.

Amid the pandemic, it was sometimes easy to overlook the world’s other turmoil — and its tragedies. A loving uncle carries his 11-year-old niece away from the devastation of a massive explosion in Beirut — her neck was broken, and her older sister died. In Syria, emergency workers pull the body of a boy killed in a government airstrike from the wreckage.

Wildfires gave the American West an eerie glow; a volcano eruption clouded the sky over Manila.

Across the United States, photographers documented an epic and bilious presidential campaign. An exultant Joe Biden, projected on a massive monitor under fireworks after he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. A dejected Donald Trump, after a sparsely attended rally in Oklahoma.

And perhaps the most appropriate image of 2020? It was captured during the waves of protests and riots in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. A protester strides past a burning building in Minneapolis; in his hands he holds the American flag.

The flag is upside down — the international signal of distress.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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