In a dilapidated Filipino cemetery, a naked homeless child enjoys a moment of play with a passing balloon.
In Poland, a six-year-old girl sobs over her homework, while in Honduras, a young boy laughs as he clutches two handguns.
Life for these children could hardly be more different, all born into situations over which they have no control until they grow up. Even then, their destinies will have been profoundly shaped by their childhoods.
Their arresting portraits were all captured in far-flung locations across the globe by photographers who have been shortlisted for the prestigious 2017 Sony World Photography Awards.
Judges selected powerful images across multiple categories, and here MailOnline presents the most compelling photos of children.
They represent a cross section of young lives from tribes in West Africa to Syrian refugees; toddler gymnasts in China to six-year-old bodybuilders in Russia; Sikhs in Italy to disadvantaged youths in Edinburgh.
The winners of the photography contest – the biggest in the world – will be revealed on April 20 at an awards ceremony at Somerset House in London.
In Guizhou, China, this little boy’s parents are busy harvesting as his 90-year-old grandmother takes a quick break to enjoy a tender moment with him
This photo was taken at a cemetery in Manila, the Philippines, where a community of homeless people live, including this child who has found a balloon to play with among the unclaimed bones and bodies
Li was admitted to the Changchun weight loss centre last year where he undergoes traditional Chinese treatments including fire therapy, pictured, which involves burning a mixture of ingredients on a cloth over his stomach
Li Hang, an eleven-year-old boy from Harbin, China, has Prader-Willi Syndrome, a chromosome abnormality which means he can’t stop himself from overeating. He weighs more than 340lbs and is currently undergoing medical treatment
In Mumbai, India, a little girl undergoes a Navjote (left), a ceremony similar to baptism which welcomes her into the Zoroastrian religion – one of the oldest on Earth. It means she’ll never be allowed to marry outside of it. Pictured (right) a religious celebration at a Sikh temple in the suburb of Parma, Italy
Taha Sirhan (right), 11, carries the Iraqi flag through burned out oil fields in the city of Qayyarah south east of Mosul in Iraq. His father was killed by ISIS during their occupation because he was working for the Iraqi police
Twin sisters Liu Bingqing and Liu Yujie go through rigorous gymnastics training at a Chinese sports school in Jining, Shandong province, where they have studied and trained since they were infants
When photographer Mohamed Roushdy El dor took this portrait (left) in Cairo, Egypt, he asked the sad boy to smile, but he said he ‘couldn’t’. Pictured (right) a small child in Togo, West Africa, with fresh wounds which will turn into scars, typical markings of the Soma tribe
In Benin, West Africa, a two-year-old member of the Betamarribe tribe endures a painful scarification ceremony in keeping with his ancient heritage
Photographer Kamila Staniszewska captured her six-year-old daughter break into tears while doing her homework in Poland
In Senegal, a young girl clings to the edge of a bus window with a strained expression on her face as the photographer shoots from above
Photographer Tim Topple took this image of his six-year-old daughter playing at their home in Cieszyn, southern Poland
A nine-year-old girl called Syuzanna takes shelter in the shell of a dilapidated car outside the abandoned building she lives in, in Gymri, Armenia, where the poverty rate is 47 per cent
In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, fashion designer Nassiba, who is pictured playing with her son, states: ‘Society constrains the divorcee. What you can or can’t do, remains under the control of others. As an independent single mother, I’ve made peace with the sacrifices I’ve had to make, but also managed to find happiness on my own’
In GouLingYu, Gansu province, this girl is just one of 61million ‘left-behind’ children in China’s rural areas whose parents have left them to move into the city. This girl says her mother ‘ran away’ from her when she was six months old
In the jungle of Sumatra Barat, Indonesia, children share a joke with an elder of the Mentawai Tribe on Mentawai Island
Pictured (left) a child plays in Kaifeng, China, by the warehouse of a man who kills dogs to sell and (right), a Bedouin boy in Oman poses with his father’s rifle. ‘He is still too young to use it,’ explains photographer Mark Languido Vicente, ‘but here, he is tasked to hold it in a safe position while his father receives guests’
Photographer Germano Miele writes of this image, which he took in the small village in Benin: ‘It’s very common, when you leave the big cities to go discovering little villages, to be received like an old friend coming back home with amazing and unforgettable smiles and calling me “Yovo” (white man in Fon, the local language). This is the pure Africa I really love’
Caught in the crossfire, Iraqi civilians displaced by fighting in the village of Shora, just south of Mosul, reach an Iraqi army checkpoint on the northern outskirts of Qayyarah
A young boy pictured clutching two guns in the Honduran city of Rivera Hernandez, where according to the photographer, five warring gangs result in three dead bodies a day
In a remote village of India’s West Bengal, children gather as this Sannyasi (religious beggar) parades a skull as part of a Gajan Festival, in hopes for rain and a better harvest in the coming year
A boy in Nakhon si Thammarat, South Thailand, rests his weary head on a buffalo in the mists of the early morning
Photographer Jian Seng Soh, who captured this image in Kyoto, Japan, wrote of it: ‘Before I got off the bus at the next station, I gave my seat to this young elementary student with heavy bags and she immediately fell asleep’
Syrian refugee children shelter under plastic to protect themselves from the rain during transportation from a Turkish camp
Participants wait backstage during a regional bodybuilding championship in Stavropol, southern Russia, where the photographer says: ‘Western magazines crammed with images of unrealistically muscled male and female bodies passed from hand to hand’
In the poverty-stricken region of Gyumri, Armenia, mum Lusine sleeps with her five children in the only room they have. During the Soviet era, these huge buildings on the outskirts of the city accommodated around 60 families each. Today there are just four families living here, among decaying walls and corridors
In Denmark, 28 schoolchildren have a pillow fight at the institute of controversial Danish therapist Carl-Mar Moller, where they are encouraged to play freely without rules
In Shanxi, China, this laughing toddler lives with her parents in a traditional cave house where the photographer says they enjoy life
Pier Mane captured this indigenous tribe of the Solomon islands. He said of the image: ‘It seems kids learn to paddle before they walk’
At a school in rural southwest Uganda, children in uniforms pray earnestly in the early morning before classes commence
A tired young student poses at a school near Sidone in Lebanon, where around a million Syrian refugees are supported by international organizations
A young boy in Senegal pictured travelling aboard a carriage guarding a bag of flour, which will be used to make bread
In Edinburgh, Scotland, boys smoke cigarettes in a deprived area with high rates of unemployment, drug abuse and gang activity
For nearly ten months, members of the Native American Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies have been camped here in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing their land and water. Pictured here, 12-year-old Jesse Jaso enters their Unity Teepee, which has been signed by camp supporters from all over North America and the rest of the world
At Mahim Bay, Mumbai, a group of kids were captured playing on junkyard cars. The photographer remarks: ‘It’s when I went closer that I realized how reckless they were and that they could not be distracted in their madness’
In Brazil’s Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, these children at a festival stopped to pose for a photo as they played in the streets
A father places his hand protectively on the head of his son in a township in Cape Town, South Africa. Until the end of the apartheid, these settlements were reserved for non-white residents only