Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Towards the World Refugee Day: Bidoon - Life without Citizenship

Towards the World Refugee Day, we are presenting testimonies of migrants who we were talking to within the activities performed as part of the project "Statelessness and Forced Migrations" supported by European Network on Statelessness.

"My name is Yasemin. I am 45 years old. I was born in Al-Jahra town in Taima settlement. I lived in a tent with my husband and our four daughters. I’m a Bidoon. You know, the Government of Kuwait considers us to be foreigners and all our rights are denied. We cannot get education, employment, we do not have the right to vote... My parents were born in Kuwait and spent their whole lives in Al-Jahri, disadvantaged and poor. I do not want such a destiny for myself or my children. 

In Kuwait I worked on a cow farm. I made cheese and other dairy products. Wages were small, because I do not have the right to work in Kuwait. But the farm owner was a good person and always helped my family when we needed it. Whenever my daughters were sick, in order to be examined by a real doctor, he would give us his daughter's health cards. Health care is free for Kuwaiti citizens, while we are not allowed to go to hospital. All my daughters were born in our tent. 

Many times my husband and I went to various institutions hoping that we would be able to exercise some rights and obtain documents. Each time they would send us back from the entrance and tell us that we had nothing to do there. I was once told that I should be happy that we were allowed to live in Kuwait at all. There are not even international organisations where I could seek help. Only few groups of humanitarians and some good people who helped giving us food and clothes. Bidoons protested numerous times. But every time the protests would end with arrests and aggression. At the 2009 protest, my husband was arrested. He spent several days in prison. He returned home humiliated and beaten. After many unsuccessful protests we began to lose hope that we would ever exercise any rights.

In Kuwait, people perceived us as a lower layer, slaves... I know it's wrong but whatever I do I cannot change it. I have never attended school. Neither have my children. I can write a bit, but my daughters have never learned it (the woman started crying). There is no help for us in Kuwait. It's a rich country, but it's a hell for us. That's why we decided to leave. There is no future for my children there."

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