Longing in Marawi
Project info

In May 2017, Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province, southern Philippines, experienced its deadliest urban armed conflict. The crisis had severe humanitarian consequences for the residents of Marawi City and its
nearby towns. The conflict caused more than 300,000 people to flee their homes and around 1,000 people– fighters and civilians – lost their lives. Many people were separated from loved ones, some of whom remain missing to date.

It’s been a year since the crisis began but around 230,000 people remain displaced and are in need of humanitarian aid. Behind each number lies a story of prolonged suffering. The daily life of internally displaced people (IDPs), locally called “bakwit” (evacuee), is dominated by longing: longing to return home, longing for news of missing loved ones, or longing to be reunited with a relative who has moved elsewhere or is behind bars. For many, coping with their difficult living conditions is easier than dealing with uncertainty about their future, or the agony of waiting for news about a loved one that may never come. Unfortunately, the suffering and experiences of displaced people from Marawi are not often seen outside the Philippines.
Since the start of the conflict, the authorities along with humanitarian organizations have been assisting people by providing them with food and household items, clean water and health care, as well as facilitating family reunifications.

The following images come from the first days of the conflict and my visits to the IDP camps in Saguiaran evacuation center, as well as of some residents who returned to Marawi, months after the conflict ended. During these visits, I spent time talking to people, listening to their stories and using these images to capture moments from their daily lives.