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Long After the War

Photographer Jošt Franko’s project “Nicht Fallen”, winner of the Aftermath Project grant, follows the lives of communities that survived the war in the former Yugoslavia, still living in refugee camps decades after the conflict.

“I went to my birthplace after 30 years. I left it in 1992. I don’t know how to describe what I saw. Practically nothing. Wilderness. It was all overgrown”, says Hazira Đafić, one of the protagonists of the project, who lives in the Ježevac refugee camp, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Hazira Đafić disposes of ashes into the Spreca river. Super 8 film strip. Ježevac refugee settlement, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mirsada doesn't have a single image of her family from before the war. The empty frame, she says, helps her imagine how life used to be. Mihatovici, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Hazira and Zaim Alic in the Ježevac refugee settlement. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosiljka, a double amputee, in the refugee settlement named the Barracks, where he has been living since the late 1990s. Zvornik, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Since the local municipality doesn’t pick up garbage from refugee settlements, the residents burn their waste. They call it “the volcano of Ježevac”. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Merfin's obituary picture. Object collected in 2018. During the war, Merfin fled to Tuzla, a safe heaven, with his sister Hazira Đafić, and settled in a refugee camp. 10 years after the end of the war, he died stepping on a mine, while scavenging for wood-logs in the forest. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jošt Franko’s photographs, mixed with found objects, focus on lives that could not be rebuilt, amidst recurrent violence lasting long after the war has ended. The title, “Don’t drop/Don’t let go”, comes from the words written on the tape that keeps together the frame of Hazira’s brother’s photograph. He died stepping on a mine while looking for wood, ten years after the end of the conflict.

Hazira Đafić and her neighbors collect wood logs before the winter. Near Ježevac refugee settlement in Oskova, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Hazira Đafić washes her hands in a puddle, after looking for coal that she sells on the black market. “Coal is the bread and butter for us refugees,” she says, since there are no opportunities for them to find regular employment. Near Ježevac refugee settlement, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A portrait of Hazira Đafić with text, after she has visited her home village for the first time in 30 years. “What is there to see? Only wilderness. As if nobody had ever existed.” Ježevac refugee settlement, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Spreca river, next to Ježevac. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Šugra Mustafić's image of her deceased husband, who was killed in Srebrenica. Ježevac refugee settlement, Oskova, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Nena’s story, as told by her neighbor Nezira Music. “When she fled, Nena first lived in Kiseljak, and then came to Mihatovici in 1998. She had four sons, but only one of them survived. She has suffered a lot. It was too much for her, all this sadness.” Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mihatovici refugee settlement. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

You can learn more about Jošt Franko’s work on his website.

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