Today, leaders from government, civil society, and the UN gathered at the US Institute of Peace to explore statelessness and its impact on women worldwide. The Institute's sparkling new headquarters played host to an insightful and inspiring discussion - a fitting kick-off for a week full of stateless advocacy here at RI.
“My son heard my husband knocking some nails into the wall and he actually thought this noise was me killing his father,” a Kuwaiti woman, whom I will call Mona, told me. I am currently in Kuwait with my Refugees International colleague, assessing the needs of this country’s stateless population.
At an open-air rally in Kuwait, Refugees International’s Maureen Lynch and I were escorted to the front of the seated gathering as honored guests. We were there in the country for an eight-day visit to assess the current circumstances under which Kuwait’s approximately 90,000 stateless persons, the Bidoon, are living. We also met with government officials, private-sector experts and advocacy groups to identify concrete actions to secure the Bidoon’s right to nationality in their own country.
Along a quiet city street in Jahra, some 50 kilometers west of Kuwait City, the father of a young and growing family glanced quickly over his shoulder to see whether anyone is observing our conversation. “I’m afraid,” he told me. Mohammed and his wife are bidun, stateless people.