Each year we assemble a collection of the top news images from the past 365 days. This year, the stark reality of a migrant crisis embodied in a drowned boy and the horrors of the calculated attacks in Paris contrast with the levity of a viral meme featuring Pope Francis, as well as the hope of refugees beginning a new life in Canada. Following is a selection of some of the best photos from 2015.
The year of the refugee
The European refugee crisis, driven by a mass exodus from war-torn Syria, came to the fore in April after a string of migrant-boat sinkings led to over 1,200 drownings in the Mediterranean Sea. The incidents represented a spike in a near continuous flow of migrants the UN calls the largest wave of forcibly displaced people since the Second World War.
The first Syrian refugees arrive in Canada
To make good on a pledge to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the year (an average of two flights per day through December) John McCallum, the newly-appointed minister of immigration and refugees, says a "colossal effort" is underway at processing centres in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
During a brief welcoming speech at the airport on Dec. 11, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Tonight they step off the plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada." At least 25,000 are to be admitted to Canada by the end of February.
The photo that shook the world
Images of three-year-old Alan Kurdi shocked the world in September, putting a harsh spotlight on the refugee disaster unfolding across Europe. The image prompted both empathy and outrage over the perceived failure of rich, developed nations to protect those left vulnerable by war and poverty.
The Syrian civil war rages on
While the attacks in Paris galvanized international efforts against ISIS, Syria's civil war continues into its fifth year, with Russia — the Assad regime's primary backer, along with Iran — reported to be fighting alongside Assad's troops. In rebel-held Douma, airstrikes like the one blamed for this girl's injuries, have become a fact of daily life.
#PopeBars trends on Twitter
Pope Francis, urging unity amid civil strife and inequality on his first trip to Africa, was photographed while inadvertently striking a rap emcee-like pose, inspiring a flurry of social media posts musing about just what kind of rhymes the pontiff might deliver. The Vatican also released a rock album this year titled Wake Up!
China's red alert smog
In December, the Chinese capital launched restrictions under its first red alert for pollution, closing schools, suspending factories and keeping half the vehicles off the streets. China's government has publicly set 2030 as a deadline to reach the country's emissions peak, and data suggest the country's coal consumption is already in decline.
Roses, candles and other tributes became symbols of national resolve as France reeled in the aftermath of a series of co-ordinated attacks at cafés, restaurants and the Bataclan theatre, as well as a failed attack at the Stade de France, that killed 130 people in November. Eighty-nine people were killed at the Bataclan alone.
'Sunny ways, my friends'
"Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways," Trudeau told his enthusiastic supporters in Montreal after the Liberals surged to victory in a stunning majority government win, dashing the hopes of Stephen Harper, who had been seeking his fourth consecutive mandate as prime minister. The Trudeaus' feature in Vogue magazine, and his perceived good looks, also made a major splash online.
The bat flip heard around the world
Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista's infamous bat flip in Game 5 of this year's American League Divisional Series game cemented his place in Toronto sports lore and caused such an uproar it trended worldwide on Twitter.
The Jays went on to win the game and the series before losing to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series.
Spiteful journalist trips migrants
Photographer Marko Djurica captured the now infamous moment in which Hungarian camerawoman Petra Laszlo intentionally tripped a man carrying a child — two of about 1,000 migrants who had been waiting days for buses that never came, near Roszke, Hungary, on Sept. 8. "It came as quite a shock," Djurica said of the incident. Her photos, taken for Reuters, were widely published.
The supermoon eclipse
Stargazers in Canada and around the world were in for a rare, two-for-one treat when a total lunar eclipse coincided with a so-called supermoon near the end of September. The supermoon happens when a full moon comes up during its closest approach to the Earth, which makes it appear larger and brighter than normal.
The Balkan route
In August, a new wave of migrants surged through the Balkans and came up against a police line on the Macedonian border with Greece. The stoppage proved futile after thousands of migrants stormed past police. In November, Macedonia, along with Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, clamped their borders shut again, leaving a growing number of migrants stranded in tents with winter approaching.
Donald Trump's presidential run
Real estate magnate turned Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has campaigned on a platform of promises that includes building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border (but not Canada's) and barring of Muslims from the U.S., among other hair-raising statements. Third in line for Time magazine's person of the year, (he was attacked by an eagle during the photoshoot) Trump has angered people on all sides of the political spectrum.
Northern California roasted under one of the worst fire seasons in the state's history this summer. One wildfire in particular burned through tens of thousands of hectares, including 12,000 homes in Lake Country, 135 kilometres north of San Francisco, prompting U.S. President Barack Obama to declare it a major disaster, releasing millions in federal money for recovery and cleanup.
Fiesta de San Fermin
Pamplona's controversial bull runs, made famous in North America by Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, produce some of the most stunning images every year. Here, one of the tens of thousands of revellers who pack the streets of Pamplona was caught in a moment by David Ramos amidst the crush of the opening day Chupinazo celebration.
Baltimore reacts to Freddie Gray's funeral
Baltimore erupted in violence on the day of Freddie Gray's funeral in the most violent, racially-charged demonstrations in the U.S. since clashes in Ferguson, Mo., last year. Gray was arrested for having a switchblade on April 12. A week later, his in-hospital death from a severe spinal cord injury intensified a debate on race and police tactics — a debate that was re-ignited in November in Chicago after the release of a video showing the death of Laquan McDonald.
The death toll in Nepal, which climbed over the course of months, is estimated to have exceeded 9,000 following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake (the worst in over 80 years) struck on April 25. The earthquake destroyed dozens of UNESCO heritage temples in Kathmandu and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 19 people. A major aftershock struck on May 12.
A rare Chilean eruption
Volcano Calbuco erupted for the first time in more than four decades in April, sending up a thick plume of ash 20 kilometres into the air. Authorities declared a red alert and kept some 15,000 residents away from their homes over the course of a weeks-long evacuation.
Kobani won back from ISIS
In September, ISIS fighters captured about 300 Kurdish villages and hamlets near Kobani and ventured into the town itself, sending tens of thousands of residents fleeing into Turkey. The town was recaptured with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes but the scope of its destruction will make it hard for refugees to return any time soon.
Je Suis Charlie et marches républicaines
Attacks in Paris began on Jan. 7 when two brothers stormed the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including a police officer. In the following days, gunmen stormed a printing company and a Kosher supermarket in in the French capital raising the death toll to 17. The attacks galvanized world leaders in the fight against global extremism and inspired vigils around the world under the slogan Je Suis Charlie.