Jeroen Oerlemans

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Person.png Jeroen Oerlemans  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(War correspondent)
Jeroen Oerlemans.jpg
Kidnapped in Syria, killed in Libya
Born15 May 1970
Vught, Netherlands
Died2 October 2016 (Age 46)
Sirte, Libya
Alma materAmsterdam University

Jeroen Oerlemans (15 May 1970 – 2 October 2016) was a Dutch photographer and war correspondent who reported mainly from the Middle East and Afghanistan. He was killed by a sniper in the Libyan city of Sirte.


Oerlemans was born in Vught in the North Brabant province of the Netherlands. He studied political science at the Amsterdam University and thereafter photojournalism at London College of Communication.

War correspondent

As a freelance photographer he covered several areas of conflict: Afghanistan, Haiti, Pakistan and nearly all countries of the Middle East (Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Territories). In his latter years he was mostly active in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. His photographs were published in Newsweek, Time Magazine, The Guardian, International Herald Tribune, The Sunday Times, Courrier International and elsewhere.[1] When not on assignment Oerlemans lived in Amsterdam with his wife and children.

In July 2012, Oerlemans and the British photographer John Cantlie were kidnapped in northern Syria and detained for one week. Both men were held by a militant group in Syria and both were wounded when they tried to escape. It was reported that Shajul Islam was among their captors, and that they were freed by fighters of the Free Syrian Army.[2] Shajul Islam’s trial collapsed in 2013, when it was revealed that Mr Cantlie had been abducted once again, and could not give evidence. Mr Oerlemans refused to give evidence for fear that it would further endanger Mr Cantlie.[3] In September and the beginning of October 2016, he was on assignment in Libya, reporting for the Belgian weekly Knack Magazine. In the town of Sirte heavy fighting was going on between pro-government Libyan forces and ISIS. Oerlemans had been scheduled to return home Monday, but was shot dead by snipers attached to the Libyan arm of Islamic State. He was taken to a hospital but doctors could do nothing for him. According to journalist Joanie de Rijke, Knack employee, Oerlemans was wearing a bulletproof vest and he had a helmet on, ″but the bullet hit him on the side, just at the opening of his vest. [...] The only consolation is that he was immediately dead, he did not suffer in any case.″[4]

The Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands confirmed Oerlemans' death on Sunday, 2 October 2016.[5] According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the photographer was the third journalist to be killed in Libya this year. Bert Koenders, the Dutch Foreign Minister, paid tribute to him, saying "Oerlemans was a journalist who went through where others stopped, driven to bring the news in pictures, especially in the trouble spots of the world. A great photographer is gone."


  • 2007: Honorable Mention prize singles, Spot News category, World Press Photo, Amsterdam[6]
  • 2007: Honorable mention, International News category, The Best of Photojournalism 2007, National Press Photographers Association, St. Petersburg, FL[7]
  • 2008: Zilveren Camera (Silver Camera), Netherlands — for his reportage on soldiers in Afghanistan[8]
  • 2010: Zilveren Camera (Silver Camera), Netherlands — for a series on illegal immigrants in Greece
  • 2011: Winner, foreign news category, Zilveren Camera (Silver Camera) 2010, Netherlands — for documentation of every day life in Libya[9]

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  1. Hollandse Hoogte: Beelden "Jeroen Oerlemans", accessed 3 October 2016
  2. Rod Nordland: Syrian Rebels Free 2 Journalists After Weeklong Ordeal With Islamic Extremists, New York Times, 27 July 2012, accessed 3 October 2016
  3. Document:Dropping bombs on behalf of Al Qaeda
  4. "Dutch journalist killed in Libyan city of Sirte, IS bastion", 2 October 2016.
  5. "Libya: Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans dies in Sirte", 3 October 2016
  6. "Jeroen Oerlemans" World Press Photo. Accessed 3 October 2016
  7. "Winners picked in six more best of photojournalism still photo categories". Accessed 3 October 2016
  8. RTL Nieuws: "De indrukwekkende foto's van Jeroen Oerlemans" (The impressive photographs of Jeroen Oerlemans), 2 October 2016 (dutch)
  9. "Evert-Jan Daniels wint de Zilveren Camera 2010" Photofacts. Accessed 3 October 2016
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