Alfredo Bosco is one of the 50 best emerging photographers for 2015, as voted by the eight-member international jury for the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2015. Here is his winning entry and artist’s statement. View his profile to learn more about him and to see more of his great work.

This project was done in two phases. The first in the autumn of 2014, when separatist forces took control of Donetsk’s airport in Ukraine. The second in the winter of 2015, following the current ceasefire subsequent to the occupation of Debaltseve/Debaltsevo, an important strategic point for the territory.

The aim of the reportage is to illustrate the situation of two groups as it appears in the occupied territory beyond the last Ukrainian controlled checkpoint. Volunteer separatists actively defend a devastated wasteland in which a fragile ceasefire is not upheld. Meanwhile, the drudgery of the miners’ life continues, closely guarded—they are the symbol and pride of the region. Of course, the very economic isolation caused by the conflict only further worsens the living conditions of the population.

The governments of the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk fail to meet the demands of salaries and pensions, which have remained unpaid for months. Despite the war, miners continue to work in precarious illegal mines without pay and at their own risk, factors which aggravate the daily lives of the families who have remained behind.

A year after the beginning of this conflict, first considered as a crisis and later as an uprising, it now appears to be the first European Civil War of the century.

—Alfredo Bosco