April 14, 2021

Live when you are invisible

Live when you are invisible


Ibrahim is 84 years old and lives in Mahajanga – a region of Madagascar – with his wife, children and grandchildren. They are all stateless. The same happens to little Deborah, who lives in Côte d'Ivoire: her father died before she could register her birth. Mivtar Rusteman and his family live in statelessness since the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 90s. Little Rome Al All, 9, although living in Lebanon has no nationality because his father also lacks it and the Lebanese law does not allow to women to transmit their nationality to their children.

Different protagonists that come from different parts of the world, but with the same story: none of them belongs to any nation legally. They are all people with stolen identities.

The sense of belonging is innate to human beings. We are part of a nation, a society or a community. Since we are born we are registered in a register that determines who we are and where we come from. The State gives us an identity that gives us a series of rights and allows us to choose where we want to go in the future. Over time, this sense of belonging grows stronger roots: we are part of a family, a group of friends, a team, a job … but, what would happen if we did not have an identity? What would happen if we were legally invisible?

Currently there are ten million people living in this situation. Ten million stateless people. Women, men and children who are not recognized as citizens of any country, who lack such essential rights as education, health, marriage or travel to other places. It is a problem that affects many communities in countries around the world such as Kenya, Madagascar, the Former Yugoslav Republic, Malaysia, Lebanon or Myanmar, which has its origins mainly in migration flows. Throughout history, many communities have been forced to emigrate in search of a second chance. In search of hope.

Do not forget that they are not numbers. Those who suffer from this problem are people. Apatriados who have seen how, generation after generation, their link to a society has been nonexistent. Parents who have not been able to take their children to school or people with health problems who have not been entitled to health coverage. Live as if they lived in no man's land, adrift.

The visibility of this problem of exclusion has been the reason why UNHCR and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, in collaboration with Obra Social La Caixa, have opted to create a photo exhibition under the title "Stateless. The labyrinth of the invisible "in CaixaForum Madrid, which can be visited until December 2, free of charge.

Far from photographic paper, this peculiar photographic album is shown in the form of fabrics hanging from the ceiling combined with mirrors. As the curator of the exhibition, Zara Fernández de Moya, points out, "with the photographs in the mirrors, what we were looking for was the identification of the visitors with the stateless and that they ask who is who?" The photographs shown are the work of the photographers Roger Arnold, Arnaud Froger, Jordi Matas and Bruno Galán.

People who come and go. Directions and destinations that intersect. But always with a reason: hope. This is how the poet Rosana Acquaroni collects it in the poem that accompanies one of the photographs in the exhibition: "Only the night exists, a faint shadow burns; it is hope; open furrow to furrow, in the middle of the emptiness ".

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