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Dignity in Limbo

Daniel Portal | Uganda

Organization: Daniel Portal Studio

Young girl. The only secondary school at the settlement is private. Needless to say, almost nobody attends, perpetuating the problem of poverty, on top of all the other issues.

Dignity in limbo 

Refugees from all over of the world went through hell and back. Typically, refugees and the conflicts that caused them to depart their homes are in the news for a short period of time. However, once settled in a refugee camp, which is supposed to be temporary, a new ordeal commences. Refugees learn quickly, that their lives are now in limbo. They live in constant state of duality. They are simultaneously living and dying, going back home and re-settling at other camps, longing for a better future, and hurting from the atrocities of the past, hopeful and hopeless.​

These images were taken in three different refugee settlements in Uganda. Nakivale on the border with Tanzania, where the bulk of the refugees come from neighboring DR Congo and Rwanda is a long standing settlement, established in the 1960's. The other two settlements,  Bidi Bidi and White Rhino settlements on the border with South Sudan are newly established as a response to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan. All settlements in Uganda are run by the Ugandan Goverment, with the support of the UNHCR.


In this work, I explore this duality of life in refugee settlements. In them, refugees have precarious safety, very basic access to health care, food and water, with little to no prospect of improving in the future, while at the same time, retaining their dignity. I use simple techniques to make portraits of refugees, highlighting their personalities. The dual state of their existence was explored by the use of long exposures as well as sequential images.

Phone: +1-617-543-9306

email: dportal@gmail.com


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