Freelance photographer Heidi Levine has been named as the first winner of the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) created the award to honour the courage and dedication of Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed while reporting in Afghanistan in 2014.

Levine is an American photojournalist who has made a career of working in conflict and war-torn areas. She has covered critical moments in the Middle East including the revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Syria, and the plight of Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, Syria and Sweden.

Heidi Levine
Heidi Levine in HebronNasser Shaouki/AP
Heidi Levine
Heidi Levine hugs her driver Ashraf Al Masri after his home in Gaza was destroyedLefteris Pitarakis/AP

She spent one month embedded with US troops in Iraq, focused on documenting the lives of female soldiers. She has also worked in Afghanistan, Georgia and India. Her photographs have appeared, often as cover stories, in leading international publications.

The jury chose Jerusalem-based photojournalist Levine as the winner for her stunning and powerful images. "Her courage and commitment to the story in Gaza is unwavering. She documents tragic events under dire circumstances while displaying a depth of compassion for the people she encounters," the jury wrote in their selection statement.

Heidi Levine
Hidya Atash stands on the top floor of her home as she overlooks the destruction in Shujayea, Gaza City, at dawn on 8 August 2014. Her family's home was hit two weeks previously by a warning rocket and the family of 40 people fled. When they returned during the ceasefire, they discovered their home was heavily damaged during the fighting.Heidi Levine/The National/Sipa Press
Heidi Levine
Women mourn during the funeral of the boys killed by an Israeli naval bombardment in the port of Gaza, Gaza City, on 16 July 2014. Four boys died instantly during an Israeli naval bombardment in the port of Gaza, and a fifth boy died shortly after the attack in hospital.Heidi Levine/The National/Sipa Press
Heidi Levine
Rawya abu Jom'a, 17 years old, lies in a hospital bed at the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on 22 July 2014. Rawya was seriously injured when two Israeli air strikes hit her family's apartment. Three of her cousins and her sister were killed in the attack. She suffered shrapnel wounds in her face, her legs had perforated holes in them and her bones were crushed in her right hand.Heidi Levine/The National/Sipa Press
Heidi Levine
Palestinian men run with a white flag in the Shejaia neighbourhood of Gaza City, which was heavily shelled by Israel during fighting, on 20 July 2014. Thousands fled for shelter to a hospital packed with the wounded, while bodies were unable to be recovered for hours until a brief ceasefire was implemented.Heidi Levine/The National/Sipa Press
Heidi Levine
Palestinians collect religious books in the rubble of the Al-Qassam mosque in Nuseirat camp located in the middle of the Gaza Strip, on 9 July 2014Heidi Levine/The National/Sipa Press
Heidi Levine
Family members surround and pray over the bodies of Palestinian brothers Amir Mustafa Arief, 15, and Mohamed Arief, 12, during their funeral at a mosque in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City, on 9 July 2014. The two teens were killed together, near their home in Shejaiya, allegedly by an Israeli military drone strike.Heidi Levine/The National/Sipa Press

The award will be given annually to a woman photojournalist whose work reflects the courage of Niedringhaus, who dedicated her life to documenting conflict and its impact on the people of war-torn regions. She died while reporting from Afghanistan on 4 April 2014. See a gallery of her work here.

Two additional photojournalists received recognition from the jury.

Anastasia Vlasova received an honourable mention for her great courage and dedication in covering the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine at extreme personal risk.

Anastasia Vlasova
Residents sit in a bus as they wait to be evacuated from Debaltseve in the Donetsk area of Ukraine, on 3 February 2015Anastasia Vlasova
Anastasia Vlasova
More than 100 people, including two dozen children, live in a bomb shelter, located in the House of Culture of Petrovskiy district in Donetsk, Ukraine. The shelter kids have a sort of a nursery room in the bomb shelter where they play and spend the day time. The children are permanently sick because of the cold and wet air underground, they rarely go outside, because of fear of bombings. Most of the bomb shelter dwellers had been living here for five months, since early August when Petrovskiy district got shelled.Anastasia Vlasova
Anastasia Vlasova
Relatives attend the funeral ceremony of 11-year old Artem Lytkin, who was killed on 19 January during the shelling in DebaltseveAnastasia Vlasova
Anastasia Vlasova
A room in the kindergarten #9 in Debaltseve which was hit by Grad rocket attack on 22 January. Kremlin-backed insurgents struck an empty kindergarten in Debaltseve rather than their presumed target of a Ukrainian military field command centre nearby.Anastasia Vlasova
Anastasia Vlasova
Two local residents hide in a basement room as 'Grad' rockets are fired in Debaltseve, a strategic point with roads to Donetsk, Lugansk and Rostov-on-DonAnastasia Vlasova
Anastasia Vlasova
Anastasia VlasovaPavlo Podufalov

AP photographer Rebecca Blackwell received an honourable mention for her coverage of conflict in the Central African Republic, demonstrating tremendous courage working in difficult conditions.

Rebecca Blackwell
Women bare their chests in a traditional sign of placing a curse, after at least two people were injured by passing Chadian troops, during a protest outside Mpoko Airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, Monday, 23 December 2013. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the entrance to the airport carrying signs protesting Chadian forces and expressing support for French troops and other regional African forces. At least two people were wounded as pickups of Chadian soldiers sped through the gathered crowd firing off several rounds in the continued unrest.Rebecca Blackwell
Rebecca Blackwell
An anti-balaka militiaman gestures as he vows that the Christian militia will kill all the Chadians if they don't leave the country, in front of a home local residents say was destroyed by Chadian rocket fire, in the Gobongo neighborhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Thursday, 26 December 2013. The spokesman for an African Union peacekeeping force says six Chadian peacekeepers were killed and 15 were wounded, after being attacked. The Chadian contingent, which is made up of Arabic-speaking Muslim soldiers, has been accused of taking sides against the Christian population in the country's sectarian conflict.Rebecca Blackwell
Rebecca Blackwell
Angry residents shout accusations at French soldiers as they deposit a man wounded by French gunfire on the steps of the building where the commander of the Sangaris forces was meeting with leaders of the mostly Muslim Kilometre 5 neighbourhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Monday, 6 January 2014. Relations between French forces and Bangui's Muslim community have been strained in recent weeks, with many Muslims accusing the Sangaris of taking sides against them. The meeting had been seen as a step in the right direction by many members of the community.Rebecca Blackwell
Rebecca Blackwell
An elderly man leans in close to hear the sound from a faint radio signal, at a makeshift camp for the displaced on a church ground in the Castor neighbourhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Monday, 30 December 2013. Tensions remain high in the capital city, with hundreds of thousands sleeping in makeshift camps for the displaced, hunger rampant, and looting and sectarian attacks continuing.Rebecca Blackwell
Rebecca Blackwell
Rebecca BlackwellAP

The IWMF is dedicated to strengthening the role of women journalists worldwide. Its work celebrates the courage of women journalists who overcome threats and oppression to report and bear witness to global issues.