Stateless in their own country: Bedouins in Jordan demand nationality

By Hayat al Dbeas

Al-Mafraq, Jordan, Oct 20 (EFE).- It has been over five years since Um Faisal al Shanabila met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to ask the state to grant Bedouins like her citizenship.

Al Shanabila says the king had promised to grant her a Jordanian passport, medical care and a pension, but over five years later, she and some 7,000 Bedouins residing in Al-Mafraq, some 80 kilometers from Amman, remain stateless.

While Shanabila received a house and medical care, she cannot get employed and receive a salary without an identity card.

“We used to herd cattle and move from place to place, we didn’t know what identity documents were and we didn’t know that life would change,” the 70-year-old mother of 10 tells Efe.

“I am always asked to prove my nationality,” she adds.

Fayez al-Ruwaili has fought for citizenship for over 10 years.

But despite her brother being a customs officer with Jordanian citizenship, she remains stateless.

“I went to apply for citizenship and they were telling me I have to prove I am Jordanian,” she tells Efe in a frustrated tone.

Al-Ruwaili blames the issue on the government’s “ambiguous and unclear” policy on granting citizenship to bedouins.

“The failure to make a decision on the stateless issue is a serious indication of the mismanagement of the crisis, which is a violation of human rights,” Isa al-Maraziq, an expert at the National Center for Human Rights, tells Efe.

“There was a specialized committee to look into the applications submitted by stateless people residing in the North Badia desert area, but the committee was suspended despite the fact that they asked the stateless people to provide evidence of their nationality,” he continues.

Jordan’s interior ministry spokesman, Tariq Al Mayali, declined to comment on the issue of stateless people in the kingdom.

“The ministry does not comment on the mention of stateless persons,” he told Efe.

Jordan is not part of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness established by the United Nations in 1961 that establishes an international framework to ensure the right of every person to a nationality.

“But it does not mean that it is not responsible for this international convention,” professor of International Law Mohamed al Saket tells Efe, adding that Jordan is breaking international human rights law by not granting citizenship.

“These people must enjoy civil, political, economic and social rights,” he says.

According to Article 3 of Jordan’s nationality law: “All members of the North Bedouin clans, (…) who were actually residing in the lands that were joined to the Kingdom in 1930” are considered Jordanian.

But Al Shanabila, Al Ruwaili and some 7,000 others still do not have the same rights as their neighbors, despite being Jordanians. EFE


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