Denied nationality: Statelessness continues to harm innocent people

Dana A.M. Akhdar – WNN SOAPBOX

Stateless mother and child
A stateless mother and child in Kyrgyzstan has no rights because they are not viewed as a citizen. Image: UNphoto

(WNN) London, UNITED KINGDOM, EUROPE: Being stateless is a pain for eternity, let’s change this…. I’m a stateless Palestinian who never had a home country that I’m allowed to reside in permanently.

This led me to seek citizenship in Norway, but I still had to move on because I have been denied nationality.

Through my journey I have faced lots of obstacles and challenges. It is difficult to discover, after four years of hard trying in Norway, that stateless refugees are not entitled to protections like the rest of other global refugees who flee war zones and political conflicts. Although refugees fleeing war might be in some cases more vulnerable and exposed.

My case is special.

I’m educated so had previous work experience which helped me to turn my situation around. After failing in Norway I was lucky enough to get a job and have a fresh start abroad.

I’m still stateless but I’m living legally and now have a steady income. I’ve also better chances now after leaving Norway to start an immigration application for skilled immigrants in countries that still need and value human resources.

I wish my mother was as lucky as I am now. She’s still in Norway. My widowed sister and her three-year-old son are also waiting for the past years for their own ‘fresh start’ in Cypress.

My mother is still living in limbo as a paperless person. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her daughters again. Her hard fate has been to be born stateless and to stay stateless for rest of her life.

No one knows if her life tunnel will ever have a light at the end of it. Instead of  reaching the age of 6o, while she should be ready for retirement after 32 years of having a job and raising four daughters, she is living alone not knowing what tomorrow may bring.

This is true for her and her 32 year-old daughter who lost a husband in one of the terrorists attacks against Palestinians in Iraq. Because she is paperless, my mother will never be ever able to meet her three-year-old grandson who was born in Cyprus. Since he and his mother were not accepted as refugees in Cyprus they have something called “secondary protection”.

This is not fair. People worldwide take their citizenships for granted.

According to article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a nationality.” My mother, my sister and my nephew are not enjoying this right. They are among the 12 million stateless people who are scattered around the world.

It’s a shame for the world to see such examples in the denial of human rights as those who cannot step out to help keep silent. Everyone can be proactive to change this reality.

We can’t be that heartless to let a piece of paper determine the fate of millions. Just because they were born in the wrong era, on the wrong soil.


Dana A.M. Akhdar is a 34-year-old stateless person of Palestinian descent. She has a BA in Administration and now working on getting her Master’s Degree in Media and Corporate Communications from University of Leicester in East Midlands region of England. Her coverage on refugees and the stateless comes from ‘first-hand’ exposure to conditions and frustrations paperless people around the globe often face daily. “I want to give them a voice to ease their pain,” says Akhdar. “…and maybe help them get the descent treatment they deserve.”


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