Personal story: I never knew life without documents could be so difficult
I lost my passport after having lived in Tajikistan for several years. It might sound strange but these days I cannot even recall how I lost my passport. I think we went to the airport to pick up relatives and it was a hurry-scurry, something kept on happening. After we returned home and after some time passed I discovered that my passport was missing.
Having found myself in this predicament I decided to write a letter to the president asking for his help. In summer of 2017 the staff of “Right and Prosperity” public association came to my aid to try to solve my problems. Firstly, they offered me counselling along with a list of documents I needed to collect and, secondly, they helped me fill in all the necessary forms.
Every time they would say the same: “You must contact a law enforcement agency of your country”, or “You must go back to Ukraine” despite the fact that there was no such an opportunity for me then – the war was raging in the East of Ukraine. All the meanwhile I had this question in my head: “I have lived in Tajikistan for nearly 10 years, my whole family lives here, then how come a piece of paper overrules these not unimportant factors?”
Given my statelessness it is very difficult for me to find a job. Before I tried to find some small contracts, did mostly repairs or refurbishing works. Also, I speak two languages and I received offers to work at school or kindergarten which would be immediately withdrawn once the other party learnt about my statelessness.
I am not good at politics and political processes but I really do not understand why simple people have to suffer so much? I know many people who are in a similar situation, for instance my next door neighbor had no passport for more than 20 years of her life in Tajikistan. I hope her problems will resolve soon and I wish that organizations similar to UNHCR and NGOs that work with stateless persons could help all those in need get their passports and enjoy their right to a regular life. My problems are nearing their end– last week I have submitted remaining portion of the documents and they promised that an answer would be ready in a week. Any day now that they will call me to confirm that residence permit for a stateless person is ready and that I can collect it. However, in the meantime I remain to be a stateless person and in two and a half years I will be able to apply for the citizenship of the Republic of Tajikistan.
According to the information of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as of October 2020 the number of persons with undetermined nationality was over 5,000. The numbers change all the time due to identification and registration of new stateless persons, as well as due to assistance provided to stateless persons on regularizing their stay. The majority of such individuals are women and girls – 70%, while in terms of age characteristics 38% of them are minors.