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Sudanese mother wins citizenship for her children after seven-year legal struggle

Her victory comes on the heels of recent positive court rulings and paves the way for her children to continue their education, find work and belong to their country.

Sudan. UNHCR helps family win eight-year battle against statelessness

Hanan Jaber Abdallah (seated at left) poses for a photo with her five children as they hold up their hard-won Sudanese citizenship documents.   © UNHCR/Mohamed Elfatih Elnaiem

When South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, Hanan Jaber Abdallah had no idea the historic move would make her five children invisible, by rendering them stateless. But like thousands of people with parents of mixed South Sudanese and Sudanese descent, they lost their Sudanese nationality immediately after the split.

Hanan herself is Sudanese, but Sudanese nationality laws did not give mothers the right to automatically pass citizenship on to their children. Her husband, originally from the south of Sudan, was unable to establish his own nationality in either country. And so their children, whose birth certificates said they were born in Sudan, found themselves stateless<.

“I couldn’t pass on my nationality to them,” Hanan said. “We didn’t think they would need another identity document.”

“I could not sleep at night. I was afraid I wouldn’t complete my education.”

It was Hanan’s eldest daughter, Benazir, who first came to the grim realization that she and her siblings were no longer citizens. It was 2012, and Benazir was ready to take her national high school exams but lacked the required ID. Her mother tried to apply for a national identification number for her, but it was rejected by the government’s Civil Registry.

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Benazir was devastated. “I could not sleep at night,” she recalled. “I was afraid I wouldn’t complete my education.”

She continued school, but had to register as a foreigner, as did her younger siblings. Her school fees were more than ten times higher than for Sudanese students, and her family had to borrow money from relatives.

“I even dropped out for a year because my parents could not afford the fees,” Benazir said. “I missed an internship opportunity as a researcher in a government laboratory.”

After learning from a community volunteer that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, provided legal aid to those facing statelessness, Benazir urged her mother to ask for help. For the next seven years, Hanan’s sole mission was to secure her children’s nationality – and their future. Through her own determination, and support from UNHCR, she learned to navigate the complex legal system, meeting regularly with a lawyer to prepare for court appearances. She visited the Civil Registry at least ten times. But the travel and effort took a toll on her finances and her health. Her children suffered too.

“My heart is full of joy and I feel like a new dawn is breaking.”

A breakthrough came on 15 December 2019, when Hanan finally received the nationality certificate for which she had fought. Her children’s lives immediately changed. Benazir, who had entered university, gained peace of mind, knowing she can get a job when she graduates. Her sister can enter university without paying exorbitant fees. A younger sister in elementary school no longer has to worry about the cost. The entire family told UNHCR they were relieved and felt their dignity had been restored.

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“My heart is full of joy and I feel like a new dawn is breaking in my life,” Hanan said. Even so, she remains determined to continue advocating for mothers in similar circumstances. She shares her story whenever she can, hoping to inspire other women to fight for documentation and a future for their own children.

“Hanan’s perseverance and the legal aid and representation in courts by our partners brought about this change,” said Eman Awad Naser, a UNHCR protection official based in Khartoum. Eman added that Hanan’s resolve impressed officials at the Sudanese Civil Registry, which has helped some 1,300 Sudanese women pass citizenship to their children since 2018. UNHCR, for its part, has provided legal aid to over 500 families who lost their Sudanese nationality and were unable to obtain South Sudanese nationality following South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

Sudan. UNHCR helps family win eight-year battle against statelessness

Upon learning that her children were stateless, Hanan Jaber Abdallah, 43, embarked on a seven-year struggle to secure their Sudanese nationality. Legal support from UNHCR and its partner, and a change in the nationality law, helped her succeed.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Elfatih Elnaiem

Sudan has made strides in changing its nationality laws. However, it remains one of 25 countries that do not yet allow women to pass their nationality on to their children the same way men can. Hanan’s case illustrates how legal, administrative and procedural barriers can thwart mothers like her for years.

Sudan is also a signatory to the 2017 Brazzaville Declaration on Eradication of Statelessness in the Great Lakes Region, which includes 11 commitments to eliminate statelessness. Among them are the reform of nationality-related laws and policies to ensure compatibility with international principles on statelessness, accession to UN statelessness conventions and the removal of gender discrimination in nationality laws and policies.

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Gender discrimination in the transfer of nationality is one of the leading causes of statelessness globally. When fathers cannot, or will not, pass on their nationality to their children, mothers in these countries have no options. There are millions of stateless people around the world who lack access to fundamental rights, such as education, health care and opportunities for employment. Things most people take for granted – like getting married, opening a bank account or even travelling – can be impossible for them. Children who are stateless often face discrimination not only from institutions and the state, but even their own families.

Five years ago, UNHCR launched the IBelong campaign to end statelessness around the world by 2024.

Source: UNHCR

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Edo goes after assets, properties of traffickers

 

The Edo State Government plans to go after the assets and properties of persons behind the wanton trafficking of indigenes of the state.

Governor Godwin Obaseki told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that proceeds from such properties would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.

Convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets, according to the governor, will serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.

The governor, who was among guests at an event held at the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, however, said that the state had been hindered by delays in prosecution.

He said whereas government had recruited competent prosecutors, judicial processes, long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying government’s move to get convictions.

He said: “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction.

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“Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.

“We are working very hard with the high courts and NAPTIP to ensure that we get convictions.

“This can serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators, ensuring that they lose property and they lose assets with which we will now use in supporting the rehabilitation of victims.

“We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidences from victims.

“Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information on their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses for them and to provide cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”

The governor said that in the last four years under his watch, the number of persons trafficked from the state had reduced with rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.

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He said that the focus for the government, working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is to re-humanise the victims and restore their dignity.

He added that the government also, in the process of rehabilitation, extracts information from the victims in a bid to understand the scope and nature of the network.

“We have rehabilitated over 6,500 victims of trafficking and irregular migration working with partners like the IOM.

“We have also used the opportunity to extract a lot of data to understand the nature and scope of all these trafficking network and crisis.

“With that information, we now understand what drives people and what have driven people to be trafficked, the areas they come from, their social situation and economic situations.

“That has helped us to put strategies in place to combat trafficking in Edo state.

“You would see from records available that the incidence of trafficking and irregular migration in Edo state over the last three years has dropped dramatically,” he said.

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JIFORM to African leaders: give youths social security to combat human trafficking

Ajibola JIFORM President

JIFORM President Ajibola

As the world marks the 2021 Day Against Trafficking In Persons on July 30, the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) has urged government in Africa to pay more attention to the social security schemes to stem the tide of human trafficking on the continent.

The global media body with over 300 journalists covering migration across the continents is hosting its 3rd global migration summit in partnership with the Altec Global Inc, Toronto Canada and others at the Niagara Falls in the country between November 29 to December 6, this year.

The President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi in a statement noted that “the major pull factor of human trafficking in Africa is poverty. The youths being trafficked need jobs, shelter, security and empowerment. Before we can ensure that the victims’ voices lead the way as the theme of the 2021 anti-human trafficking day implies, every government on the continent must not pretend on the relevance of improved socio- economic status for their citizens. Time to do needful is now by being honest and set aside undue semantics and theories.

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“We salute the doggedness of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) in Nigeria. The law establishing the agency should be reviewed to mandate the leadership of the agency to be totally professional and hierarchically structured as uniformed organization.

“NAPTIP needs more funding to recruit more hands and have its presence in the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The agency should be more strategically involved in the migration process of mostly young Nigerian ladies to be sure of their mission at the airports through collaboration with the Nigeria Immigration Service.

“Youth empowerment is very key to any preventive measure. Poverty, economic hardship and ignorance are the major weapons being used by the traffickers to sway victims in Africa especially Nigeria.

“Therefore, for the theme of this year’s anti-human trafficking day to be meaningful in Nigeria and Africa, JIFORM agrees totally that listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking are very important. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking.

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“But how well have we re-integrate many of them into the society? The victims play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation.

“We cannot agree less with the United Nations that many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support. So, we must rise to implement the preventive measures and defend the victims.

“Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking. The media too must play its roles to carry out more campaigns to complement what is expected from the government” Ajibola added.

READ  Human trafficking in West Africa: three out of four victims are children says UNODC report

 

 

 

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IOM rushes to help refugees as deadly monsoon rains wreak havoc in Bangladesh

 

IOM, Rohingya volunteers and partners are working relentlessly to assist those affected by this week’s heavy rains in Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today many of the more than 13,000 Rohingya refugees forced out of their camps by flooding in Cox’s Bazar which has killed at least six people were returning to their shelters to salvage belongings after a break in heavy rains, but the risk of more casualties remained high.

IOM said a total of more than 21,000 refugees had been affected and almost 4,000 shelters were destroyed. Food distribution centres, health facilities and water points have been damaged during three days of non-stop rain.

The six confirmed dead were killed in landslides or drowned in two IOM-managed camps and officials fear more flooding and landslides will prevent help reaching others among the total of 884,000 Rohingya refugees in the country.

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Access to the camps is hazardous as constant landslides block the main roads leading to the camps, and major routes used by refugees and humanitarian actors are under water.

Up to 2,000 people have been evacuated from landslide-prone areas in Teknaf upazila (sub-district).

“Heavy rainfall is expected during the next few days, and as such, challenges are likely to increase,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.

“Over the past few months, IOM has been assessing the risk of landslides, strengthening drainage networks, installing slope protection measures and upgrading key pathways. However, despite multiple disaster risk reduction measures being implemented, the camp congestion, excessive rain and poor soil quality, make it extremely difficult to cope with the elements,” Pereira said.

One hundred Rohingya Disaster Management Unit (DMU) volunteers trained in each camp have been working around the clock and focusing on helping the most vulnerable, including the elderly and pregnant women. IOM teams are assessing the damage and working closely with the different sectors to refer those affected for relevant assistance. Mobile medical teams have been deployed and the protection emergency response unit has been activated.

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Staff on the ground are clearing drainage pipes, repairing damage and distributing emergency shelter kits, core relief items, and aquatabs to prevent waterborne diseases.

IOM has sent in Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers to urgently assist host community members.

Families have taken refuge in six different multi-purpose cyclone shelters where they are currently being assisted with relief items, protection and medical support. Since 2019, IOM has been supporting the rehabilitation of MPCS so community members can take shelter in case of disasters.

The current flood emergency further exacerbates the massive humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. After almost four years since the latest influx of Rohingya refugees who arrived in Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar, IOM is relying on its partners to continue to support the response.

Additional support is needed to enable teams to continue to assist those affected, as well as the rest of the refugees currently residing in the camps. As always, IOM advocates for the continuation of a comprehensive humanitarian assistance for refugees across all camps.

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