TOKYO-2017 Editorial / Conflict
Longing.... Nigeria has experienced recurring armed conflicts. These conflicts have caused many people to flee their homes and seven million people are estimated to currently be in need of humanitarian assistance. Many families are scattered, separated from loved ones who may be missing or dead, but the suffering and experiences of displaced people from North Eastern Nigeria are not often seen outside the country. For Internally Displaced People (IDPs) Daily life is dominated by longing: longing for news of loved ones, waiting to speak with them, and waiting to be reunited. Coping with this situation is extremely challenging. Many families in the camps believe ‘’nothing is worse than being in constant limbo’’. For many, living in hardship conditions is manageable compared to waiting for news from lost loved ones. Since the inception of the conflict, many humanitarian organizations have been trying to assist people affected, and restoring family links has become a major activity. The following photographs document my visits to IDP camps in Northern, Central and Southern Nigeria. During these visits I spent time talking with people, listening to their stories and using photography to capture moments from their daily lives. As I asked people about their situation, the strength of longing, to be reunited with lost family members and back home, was profound. The longing and vulnerability of children who have been separated from their families is incredibly painful. Seeing newly arrived children approaching aid workers, drawing out phone numbers for their families from small handmade bags or hidden inside their toys, is heartbreaking. Portraying others’ anguish is never easy and should never be easy. I hope the following photographs provide small insights into both the daily struggles as well as the moments of brightness that parents and children experience as they try to find one another.