Images of fleeing migrants crossing borders and braving the Mediterranean Sea grabbed the world attention. After more than 7 years, figures and borders have dehumanized this tragedy. LIMBO triggers a critical reflection about the consequences of war, analyzing the reality of refugees, from recognizing their individual desperation to humanizing their struggles, going beyond the mere image - without filters



Photographing Syrians Who Share an Uncertain Future 

By Sara Aridi:

Diego Ibarra Sánchez hopes his project, “Limbo: Lives in Exile,” will convey the unceasing urgency of the Syrian refugee crisis.

During the early years of the Syrian war, images of fleeing migrants crossing borders and braving the Mediterranean Sea gripped the world’s attention. But as the conflict rages on for the seventh year, the Spanish photographer Diego Ibarra Sánchez fears that readers have become inured to Syrians’ suffering.

While large-scale atrocities within Syria are vigorously covered, Mr. Ibarra said stories of those who fled the bloodshed also must be told. “No one is talking about them,” he said. “No one is supporting them. No one is giving them a voice.”

Mr. Ibarra has been working to change that with his documentary project, “Limbo: Lives in Exile.” Since 2014, he’s been chronicling the myriad struggles Syrian refugees in Lebanon face, delving into lives essentially halted by a war that seems far from over. Part of his mission is to capture the diversity of the Syrian population in Lebanon. “Limbo” features familiar shots of the exiled in informal settlements, but it also spotlights more fortunate Syrians who live relatively comfortably.

The project is also testament to Mr. Ibarra’s patience. Over the years, he’s photographed refugees at schools, in fields, on construction sites, in temporary homes. His ability to capture the perfect shaft of light to illuminate subjects, in turn, dignifies them, as if to say: Forget the noise. This is their story. 

His lyrical portraits convey layers of longing: for the relatives they lost, the homes they fled and the country they yearn to return to. Their pasts may not have overlapped, but nearly all of them share an uncertain future.

Since the onset of the Syrian war in 2011, Lebanon has taken in more than one million refugees. That amounts to 30 percent of the country’s population — the highest concentration per capita of refugees in the world. The influx has inevitably overburdened the nation’s economy and infrastructure. And competition for jobs and resources has heightened tensions between the host communities and Syrian refugees.