Rawalpindi-based Pakistani journalist Umer Ali has won this year’s Kurt Schork Memorial Awards in International Journalism. He won the award in Local Reporter category for elegant and concise prose that does not shy away from unpopular issues.

The judges said: “tackling sensitive issues such as blasphemy law and ethnic tensions in a country where journalism is a dangerous occupation” made his writing exceptional. His winning stories were published by Dawn and Pakistan Today.

Yemen’s civil war and sensitive cultural issues in Pakistan were the stories that motivated the winning reporters in this year’s Kurt Schork Memorial Awards in International Journalism.

Iona Craig, an Irish journalist based in London, has won the Freelance category award for her undercover reporting of the most under-reported story in the Middle East for Al Jazeera America and The Intercept.

The judges praised her “informative, beautiful writing, courageous views and empathy”.

In this, the 15h year of the awards, 93 journalists from 36 countries submitted 279 published stories. A shortlist of eight in each of the two categories was judged this year by freelance journalist and author, Anna Husarska, Eye Witness Media’s Sam Dubberley and Cardiff University’s Professor of Journalism, Richard Sambrook.

The annual Awards were not established to reward risk or to encourage risk-taking but the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund Board recognises that some stories necessarily require great risk reflecting the journalistic spirit of the frontline journalist in whose name the awards were created after he was killed in Sierra Leone in 2000 while on assignment for Reuters.

The two category winners will each receive a cash prize of US $5000 to be presented at a prestigious awards ceremony at the Thomson Reuters auditorium, Canary Wharf, London, on Thursday evening, October 27.