Citation Recipient: Meridith Kohut
Affiliation: The New York Times
Honored Work: “As Venezuela Collapses, Children are Dying of Hunger”
Children stand over the body of their 17-month-old cousin, Kenyerber Aquino Merchán, in San Casimiro, Venezuela, on Aug. 21, 2017. Weighing only 8.8 pounds, Kenyerber died of heart failure caused by severe malnutrition. As Venezuela grapples with an economic crisis, hunger has gripped the nation. Now it's killing children. Over the course of five months, Meridith Kohut, on assignment for The New York Times, interviewed over 200 people and tracked 21 public hospitals to amass the evidence of malnutrition deaths. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Maria Isabel Guzmán, 46, listens as her malnourished 6-year-old granddaughter Marianyerlis cries for food at their family home in an abandoned government housing project in Ocumare del Tuy, Venezuela, on Oct. 11, 2017. Marianyerlis's weight fluctuates between 20 and 29 pounds, depending on how much food she gets. Ms. Guzmán has been diagnosed as malnourished as well. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Mourning at the burial of Kleiver Enrique Hernández, after more than 100 friends and family members attended his wake in Cua, Venezuela, on Aug. 17, 2017. Just three months earlier, his family had colored signs and hung them in the family's home – to celebrate his birth. Despite searching endlessly, Kleiver's mother and her boyfriend could not get infant formula for him. It was not for lack of trying: In online inventory searches of Locatel, one of the largest pharmacy chains in Venezuela, The Times found that only one of its 64 locations reported having the infant formula doctors had prescribed for Kleiver. It is unlikely that Ms. Hernández could have afforded it anyway. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Families scavenging for food scraps from garbage bags in Caracas, Venezuela, on Feb. 10, 2017. A recent report by the United Nations and the Pan American Health Organization found that 1.3 million people who once could feed themselves in Venezuela have had difficulty doing so since the economic crisis began three years ago. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Empty shelves at a bakery in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 9, 2017. The owners could not find flour and other ingredients to bake bread. Food riots since 2016 led the government to order some bakeries that did have food to be guarded by armed security forces. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Venezuelans line up at a soup kitchen in Los Teques, Venezuela, on Sept. 22, 2017. The country's turmoil has led many older residents to migrate abroad. Many are following the steps of their children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Esteban Granadillo, an 18-day-old baby with severe malnutrition, at Dr. Agustín Zubillaga University Hospital of Pediatrics in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, on Aug. 28, 2017. Weighing 4 pounds and 10 ounces, Esteban was rushed to the emergency room. His mother was single, disabled and unable to breast-feed him. In desperation, relatives had asked a neighbor with a young child to breast-feed. The family also fed him bottles of cow's milk, or chamomile water and anise tea, to fill his stomach. "We could not find formula anywhere," said María Peraza, his great-aunt. "Yes, it was bad, but I tell you – if we had not done it, this baby would have died." Esteban spent weeks in and out of the hospital – and died on Oct. 8. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Dayferlin Aguilar, a 5-month-old girl diagnosed with malnutrition and dehydration, is treated at Dr. Agustín Zubillaga University Hospital of Pediatrics on Aug. 29, 2017. Her mother, Albiannys Castillo, had brought in Dayferlin when the girl became very weak, falling in and out of consciousness and suffering uncontrollable diarrhea. Ms. Castillo could not produce breast milk, so she routinely arrived at 1 a.m. to wait in line outside pharmacies until they opened, to search for infant formula. "Your mama is here with you, my daughter – and I love you," she told Dayferlin when the little girl managed to open her eyes. Dayferlin died three days after being admitted. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Wuendy Perez, 30, and her youngest daughter pose near their refrigerator in La Guaria, Venezuela, on June 16, 2017. A single mother with five children, Perez said that, on average, each family member goes about two days each week without eating. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Lunchtime at a soup kitchen in Los Teques, Venezuela, on Sept. 22, 2017. People began lining up for a meal at 6 a.m. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
Women waiting to be sterilized at a free event at the state-run José Gregorio Hernández Hospital in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 8, 2017. The hospital says it has sterilized more than 300 women through this program. On that Saturday, all 21 of the women, who ranged from 25 to 32, said they already had children and wanted to be sterilized because the economic crisis had made it too difficult to raise children. Each feared becoming pregnant again, citing dire shortages of essential supplies like diapers, formulas, milk and medicine. Photo: Meridith Kohut.
The body of 17-month-old Kenyerber, who died of heart failure caused by severe malnutrition, on Aug. 21, 2017. When Kenyerber's body was finally ready for viewing, his father, Carlos Aquino, a 37-year-old construction worker, began to weep uncontrollably. "How can this be?" he cried, hugging the coffin and speaking softly, as if to comfort his son in death. "Your papá will never see you again." Photo: Meridith Kohut.