Writing at SheLoves, about reclamation, engraving, and citizenship: Engraved


According to USAID, in 2011, Ali Addeh refugee camp in Djibouti supported approximately 17,000 refugees, most of them Somalis and most of them women and children. Traditionally, refugees born in Djibouti have not received identity cards. This means they are not Somali or Djiboutian. They are people without a nation, infants with no homeland.

No official birth certificate, no papers, means children can’t go further than the fifth year in school. They don’t have access to national health care. They are limited in their ability to defend their basic human rights, and struggle to participate in the cultural and social life of Djibouti, says an article in The Djibouti Post, Djibouti’s English newspaper.

April 2013 changed the future for more than one hundred of these children and launched an era of hope for other, unborn, second-generation refugees. With celebration and fanfare, and in partnership with the UNHCR, Djibouti has started to give these children, born between countries, Djiboutian birth certificates.

I picture the names of the kids: Aisha, Ahmed, Muna, Muhammed, now stamped on a piece of paper. I imagine their parents’ grief at the realization that in order to obtain this paper, they had to abandon their beloved Somalia. I imagine those same parents’ joy that now their child belongs someplace.

This name, on this paper, earns a child the right to immunizations, education, and a record of birth and eventual death. It earns them the increased chance to avoid child marriage, human trafficking, child labor, injustice in the court system, unwilling conscription into the military.

This is the reclaiming of identity, of nationality. This is the name of an infant on a piece of paper in a miniature nation in the Horn of Africa.

Do you know where my name is? Read the rest here, Engraved.