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The most striking photos of 2021 and the stories behind them

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We take a look at 20 of the most striking images from 2021
We take a look at 20 of the most striking images from 2021   -   Copyright  Euronews Culture
By Theo Farrant  & AP/AFP

2021 was a year like no other. A year of ups and downs, triumphs and sorrows.

From COVID-19 vaccinations and extreme weather disasters to COP26, NFTs and the introduction of the metaverse.

Photography has the power to capture images that are both works of art and moments of history.

This is Euronews Culture's selection of the most striking photos from the year – recording moments of profound horror, beauty and everything in between.

Ethiopian children, Ethiopia, 13 July 2021

Eduardo Soteras/AFP
Children stand under a tree on the site of a future camp for Eritrean refugees, in a rural area near the village of Dabat, EthiopiaEduardo Soteras/AFP

Family, Gaza, 25 May 2021

Mahmud Hams/AFP
Palestinians sit in a tent that has been set up at the ruins of a building destroyed in recent Israeli air strikes, in Beit Lahia, GazaMahmud Hams/AFP

Wildfires, Greece, 8 August 2021

Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP
A local resident gestures as he holds a empty water hose during an attempt to extinguish forest fires approaching the village of Pefki, GreeceAngelos Tzortzinis/AFP

Floods, Peru, 20 March 2021

Rodrigo Abd/AP
A boy bicycle-kicks a ball in a flooded area of the Belen community in Iquitos, Peru, on March 20, 2021Rodrigo Abd/AP

Lionel Messi, France, 11 August 2021

Bertrand Guay/AFP
Lionel Messi salutes supporters gathered outside the Parc des Princes stadium after his first official press conference as PSG player in ParisBertrand Guay/AFP

Astronauts, Israel, 10 October 2021

Jack Guez/AFP
A pair of astronauts stride side-by-side in spacesuits during a training mission from Mars at the Ramon Crater in Israel's Negev desertJack Guez/AFP

Protest lovers, Spain, 18 February 2021

Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo
A couple kiss during clashes with police following a protest condemning the imprisonment of rap singer Pablo Hasél in Barcelona, Spain, February 2021Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo

Migrant, Spain, 18 May 2021

Bernat Armangue/AP Photo
A migrant is comforted by a member of the Spanish Red Cross at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta near the border of Morocco and SpainBernat Armangue/AP Photo

Refugees, Mediterranean Sea, 12 February 2021

Bruno Thevenin/AP Photo
Migrants and refugees wait for assistance aboard an overcrowded boat in the Mediterranean Sea 122 miles off the coast of LibyaBruno Thevenin/AP Photo

Haitian migrant, Mexico, 19 September 2021

Feliz Marquez/AP Photo
Haitian migrants wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Sept. 19, 2021, to avoid deportation ​to Haiti from the U.S.Feliz Marquez/AP Photo

Afghan girl, Afghanistan, 27 September 2021

Felipe Dana/AP Photo
Laila poses as she plays in a poor neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan, where hundreds of internally displaced people have been living for yearsFelipe Dana/AP Photo

Locusts, Kenya, 17 March 2021

Brian Inganga/AP Photo
Stephen Mudoga, 12, tries to chase away a swarm of locusts on his farm as he returns home from school, at Elburgon, in Nakuru county, Kenya, on March 17, 2021Brian Inganga/AP Photo

Captain America, Brazil, 15 April 2021

Silvia Izquierdo/AP Photo
Military police officer Everaldo Pinto, dressed as superhero Captain America, greets children in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, on April 15, 2021Silvia Izquierdo/AP Photo

Tour de France crash, France, 26 June 2021

Daniel Cole/AP Photo
Switzerland's Marc Hirschi lies on the side of the road after crashing during the first stage of the Tour de France cycling raceDaniel Cole/AP Photo

Filipino boy, Philippines, 6 July 2021

Aaron Favila/AP
Kian Navales at home in Quezon city, Philippines, holding a pillow with a photo on it of his late father, Arthur, who died from COVID-19Aaron Favila/AP

Simone Biles, Japan, 22 July 2021

Ashley Landis/AP Photo
Simone Biles trains on vault for artistic gymnastics at Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan, ahead of the 2020 Summer OlympicsAshley Landis/AP Photo

Haitian girl, Haiti, 18 August 2021

Fernando Llano/AP Photo
A girl plays inside a classroom where her family is staying at a school-turned-shelter for those displaced by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Les Cayes, HaitiFernando Llano/AP Photo

Kids in the street, Spain, 18 September 2021

Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo
Children jump over a puddle of water as they play during a rainstorm on a street in Barcelona, SpainEmilio Morenatti/AP Photo

Goalkeeper, France, 19 September 2021

Daniel Cole/AP Photo
Rennes' goalkeeper Alfred Gomis stands in heavy fog caused by flares at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, FranceDaniel Cole/AP Photo

Raft boy, Bangladesh, 30 July 2021

Tanbir Miraj/AFP
A child wades through a flooded area using a makeshift raft after monsoon floods and landslides in villages across southeast BangladeshTanbir Miraj/AFP

Check out the video above to get inside these photos.