Camille Lepage (1988–2014) was a French photojournalist who was killed during the conflict in the Central African Republic in 2014. Her death was described as a “murder” by the French presidency and it marked the first death of a Western journalist in the conflict.
After completing her secondary education in Collège Saint-Martin in Angers, Lepage went on to study journalism in Southampton Solent University, during which she completed an Erasmus year in Utrecht’s University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
She later specialized in photojournalism and worked independently in Africa, most notably in Egypt, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. After finishing her degree in Southampton, she moved and based herself in South Sudan’s capital Juba in July 2012, a year and a half before arriving to Bangui (CAR’s capital) where she spent the last few months of her life. She opened up about her interests in conflicts and photojournalism in an interview a year before her death, where she was asked about her top moments of her career to date and she responded, “Not sure I can talk about my ‘career’ just yet, I’m still just getting started! I find it amazing to be able to travel probably to some of the most remote areas, meet wonderful people everywhere and being able to document them.” She was a well-known photojournalist and her work has been published in several news outlets, such as : New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur, La Croix, The Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal, Vice Magazine, Al Jazeera and was widely used by BBC. She had also worked for several non-governmental organizations including : WFP, Enough Project, UNESCO, Internews, Crown Agents, Deloitte, Amnesty International and Médecins sans Frontières.
Lepage spoke passionately about the seriousness of the news stories surrounding the Central African Republic conflict that are not covered by the mainstream media: “I can’t accept that people’s tragedies are silenced simply because no one can make money out of them,” she said. “I decided to do it myself, and bring some light to them no matter what.”
In November 2013, the UN warned the Central African Republic was at risk of spiraling into genocide, was “descending into complete chaos”. and France described the country as “…on the verge of genocide”.
A week before her death, Lepage’s last entries on Instagram and Twitter said that she was traveling by motorbike for hours with an anti-balaka militia down routes chosen to avoid checkpoints of African peacekeepers to Amada Gaza about 120 km away from Berbérati, where 150 people had been killed by Séléka rebels since March.
On May 13, 2014, Lepage’s body was found by French peacekeeping troops patrolling in the Bouar region west of the country in a vehicle driven by anti-balaka rebels. Father Jean Maruis Zoumaldé, director of Radio Siriri in the region, said she had been in an area where there was intense fighting between the two sides. She had reportedly been traveling near the CAR border with Cameroon when she became caught up in fighting.