The 31 year old Karina Marlene was gunned down with 6 shots from a taxi in zone 10 of Guatemala city. LA VICTIMA KARINA MARLENE GUERRA DE 31 AÑOS ES ABATIDA POR 6 DISPAROS DESDE UN TAXI EN LA ZONA 10 DE GUATEMALA. © JAVIER ARCENILLAS
A morning military exercise in the police academy in Kabul. © Majid Saeedi—Courtesy FotoEvidence
Afghan boys playing with kites among ruins in the center of Kabul. © Majid Saeedi—Courtesy FotoEvidence
A salesman in the women’s section of the Kandahar bazaar shows customers his wares. Despite daily incidents by a growing Taliban population in Kandahar people continue their ordinary lives in the streets of the city. © Majid Saeedi—Courtesy FotoEvidence
Many Somalis will take their mentally ill relatives to traditional or Khoranic healers for treatment. Mogadishu, Somalia. © Robin Hammond—Courtesy FotoEvidence
Due to insufficient staff numbers, family members are encouraged to stay with patients at Brothers of Charity Sante Mental. This relative would often beat, tie up and drag the patient when she did not obey his instructions. Goma, The Democratic Republic of Congo. © Robin Hammond—Courtesy FotoEvidence
This so called Rehabilitation facility outside the Niger Delta city of Port Harcourt holds over 170 people with mental illness or mental disability. In 1999 it was turned into a place of incarceration for homeless people with mental illness that were cleared off the streets in a ‘clean up’ in anticipation of the FIFA World Youth Soccer Championship. They have been here ever since. While the staff denied that they house children, the photographer found, one mentally impaired child (around 8 years old) sleeping on the floor in the room for the “high risk” male inmates. The child had been there for 3 months. The Niger Delta, Nigeria. © Robin Hammond—Courtesy FotoEvidence

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Sachin, 14, a child with a severe physical disorder affecting his bone structure and legs, is entering his home in the impoverished Oriya Basti Colony in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, near the abandoned Union Carbide (now DOW Chemical) industrial complex.

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Salman, 13, a child presenting a severe neurological disorder and blindness, is portrayed in his home in the impoverished Arif Nagar colony, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, near the former Union Carbide (now DOW Chemicals) industrial complex.

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A Poonam, 8, is refreshing under the late monsoon rain in the impoverished Oriya Basti colony in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, near the former Union Carbide (now DOW Chemicals) industrial complex. When the heavy monsoon rain falls every year, it seeps through the buried waste of UC, before proceeding to fill up and pollute the area’s underground reservoirs.
A hooded sicario (hit man or assassin) threatens the photographer for few seconds in zone 14 of Guatemala City. © Javier Arcenillas—Courtesy FotoEvidence
Hector Torre was shot in the head after an argument. He died in the ambulance on his way to the hospital. © Javier Arcenillas—Courtesy FotoEvidence
Thirty-one year old Karina Marlene was gunned down with 6 shots from a taxi in zone 10 of Guatemala City. © Javier Arcenillas—Courtesy FotoEvidence

With the pace and volume of photographic production in the current digital age, many of the important stories of our time inevitably go overlooked. Photographers are reaching audiences faster than ever before, but once their work is out there, it doesn’t take long before it’s buried in the feeds, ultimately lying dormant in some impermanent online archive. Photobooks, on the other hand, the haptic living objects occupying our selves, shared, passed down, inherited, continue to offer contemporary photographers among the best means of keeping memories from fading out of consciousness.

Records of the harshest realities, however, may not be what commercial publishers in today’s struggling industry are queuing up to embrace. To counter this, the FotoEvidence Book Award was started in 2011 honoring the work of photographers who exhibit “courage and commitment in addressing a violation of human rights, a significant injustice or an assault on human dignity.” They’ve help helped many of the most inspiring talents of the day find resolution to their stories in bound, printed form, ensuring that victims of injustice don’t go as readily forgotten.

This year’s fifth annual submission deadline is Jan. 15, 2015. Winners are to be announced on Feb. 20, 2015, and will have their work published in a book, as well as exhibited at the Bronx Documentary Center in New York later this fall. (Full entry details.)

Here, we take a look back on the moving work of the past four Book Award winners. Majid Saeedi documents life under endless war in Afghanistan over the last decade; Robin Hammond captures the brutal conditions of mental health facilities in Africa’s conflict zones; Alex Masi exposes the aftermath of the 1984 toxic gas disaster in Bhopal, India and it’s continued devastation of the local youth population; and Javier Arcenillas chronicles life under the scourge of sicarios, or hit men, in Latin America.