Faces from a Mirage

  • Photographer
    Liz Loh-Taylor
  • Jury Top 5 Selection
  • Date of Photograph
    July 2022
  • Technical Info
    Leica M11, Leica M 35mm f1.4

I have just returned from covering the multitudes of calamities in Ethiopia, stretching from the West to the Northeastern regions. This entry is my attempt to share the stories of those impacted and to reveal human resilience in amongst hopeless destitution. It is my attempt to highlight our need to separate politics from people and recognise that whilst politics will forever be at play, people on the ground are no different to you and I, merely collateral in a classified game. The challenges in Ethiopia are vast, from political to natural calamities, occurring all at once.


As we drove through the Danakil Depression, one of the hottest places on earth, I spotted a hopeful reflection of a lake in the distance. There has been nothing but desolate grounds, vast yet infertile, for hundreds of kilometres. It was none but a naive notion. There was no lake. Once river beds were parched, devoid of any signs of life. Deep cracks have established permanence on these lands. That hopeful reflection was simply a mirage, an artless hallucination.

This is a snippet of the lives of people I have met, their journey of survival and continuity, despite floods, droughts, famine and conflict happening all at once, a devastation of destruction in every form, with compounding reverberations.

They had homes and small pieces of agricultural land that sustained their families. They had lives. Now they don't. Some of them have been displaced due to floods that have washed away their villages and livestock or turned their homes to rubble during internal conflict. They had livestock which slowly starved and thirst to death as ground water dried up and there is still no signs of rain. Major facilities including hospitals, hospital equipment, medicines, schools, market places and homes stretching across the North Eastern region of Ethiopia have been destroyed during the war between their government and militia. Most of which can't easily be replaced, at least not without substantial foreign aid. Women, children and the elderly are dying of starvation and thirst. The flow on effects of the war in Ukraine has further impacted the supply of food aid. A local doctor said to me, "I need to help this child now, not after your images has informed the world as this child would not make it!"

Sometimes I wonder where these communities find the strength and resilience to keep going, to keep surviving, to keep walking towards that never ending mirage, an illusion so cruel where the most admirable human characters and resolve are witnessed.

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