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“Mesecina” and “Arka” work on registering adults

People are born for the second time after obtaining personal documents

Bari, Alisa, Dzejlan and a list of other names are just some of the examples for successful work of the Roma information centers of the humanitarian organization Mesecina from Gostivar. Despite being adults, they have recently been given their first birth certificate and have practically been born for the second time. For many years not registered in any book, these people did not have a regulated status in the country and they could neither provide it to their children. Within projects lasting for many years for obtaining personal documents and registering in the Birth Registry and the Forum for the Roma Rights “Arka” from Kumanovo. In the course of 2007 only in Skopje through Arka in a procedure hundreds of children and adults were registered, and according to the field data it is not even 10% of the needs of Roma population. Lots of people address them every day with the same problems, and next month they will work on continuation of the project with the donors ISC and USAID. In the Arka projects the Kumanovo Roma are also involved and the cooperation has been also spread to Kosovo and Serbia, due to the close family relations between them and the Macedonian Roma.

“Arka is working on the project for personal documents in Kumanovo and Skopje. For the last two years thousands of cases have been solved, but the need is much bigger. The civil society organizations have the capacity but the process should be supported by donors for a longer period of time. The procedures in these towns sometimes last for months, as we obtain documents for foreign citizens, too, now living in Macedonia. That is why we cooperate with our partner organizations in Kosovo and Serbia, thus successfully solving these cases”, says Ramadan Sakirovski, coordinator of the Arka project in Skopje.

Alisa from Veles, born in 1983 is a mother of three underage children. She has never been registered. Now she is married in Gostivar, she has her own family, but neither she, nor her children have been registered. The case with Dzejlan, born in 1990 in Skopje in Suto Orizari is similar. She has five brothers and sisters, but unfortunately, as born at home, she has never been registered. Now she is married in Gostivar and is mother of two underage children.

Bari is one of the older examples of a person who was not registered in the country. He is 29 and his wife and children were also unregistered. Bari was born home, which additionally complicated issuing documents, they say in Mesecina. Two witnesses are necessary to confirm that he was born in that house, that he is a child of those parents and this procedure is additionally complicated if the person is older.

Successful stories

Nowadays these three people are part of the successful stories completed with assistance from Mesecina. From the humanitarian association they have managed, even after more than two years, in cooperation with the Civil Society Information Center from Skopje, to register Dzejlan, so that she has been given a birth certificate. At the moment there is a procedure for registering the marriage and their two children in the Birth Registry.

Towards the end of 2006, after six months of work and communication with the registry department in Veles, Mesecina managed to register Alisa for the first time. So today she has a birth certificate, an ID card, she is married to her husband and her three underage children are registered and have birth certificates. Bari is also registered, as well as his children.

“The process of registering in the Birth Registry is long, it requires lots of finances, and these people who live in poverty do not have them. They receive legal help, as well as money for the whole process by the humanitarian association Mesecina, that has been working on this problem for many years”, says Muhamed Toci from Mesecina.

There are a few reasons for this condition, explains Toci. Most of the Roma are illiterate and do not manage to register newborns on time, within legal deadline. When the deadline expires, they are afraid of the costs and penalties they cannot afford to pay. There are also such who are not registered themselves, so they cannot get birth certificates neither for the children and they do not know where to start from.

“Mesecina has been facing all these examples for a longer period of time and we believe that not only civil society organizations should deal with them, but also the state social services. The problem is particularly complicated when these children or adults have never in their life had neither health insurance, nor have been involved in the process of education. The laws clearly state that there is no obstacle, even with the fact that they do not have a birth certificate, for them not to have a health security card or go to school. Macedonia has good laws, but they are not obeyed enough”, says Toci.

However, in spite of the number of successfully solved examples, in Arka they say there are some that take a lot of time and work and there is no guarantee they will be solved. The example of a girl from Skopje, who does not know when she was born, and it can neither be confirmed by her parents, is not the only one. At the moment she is in process of getting a birth certificate, but it is very difficult to prove her origin and age. It can only be solved by a DNA test, but it is very expensive.  
New conditions for obtaining documents

The problem with obtaining birth certificates has lately become complicated by the registry offices’ requirements of DNA test for all cases where children were born in home conditions. According to the explanation of the state services, statements by witnesses are not enough. This will not only prolong the procedure for obtaining the necessary documents, but it will also cost much more, as the DNA test in MANU costs 6.000 denars and in the Clinical Center it is seven times more expensive. These sums go beyond the financial power of the citizens’ organizations Mesecina and Arka, and the solution will be sought in looking for donors that will cover these costs.

“The procedure is not so complicated if the child is born in a hospital. In that case, in spite of the fact it has not been registered for many years, the hospitals keep the data about the newborns and their mothers. In such cases, it takes only a few months to get all the necessary documents for first registration in the Birth Registry and certainly less finances”, points out Toci. He thinks that it would be good if schools got involved in this process by obeying the law and enabling every child at the age of 7 to 18 to be included in the process of education. It will simplify further obtaining of the necessary documents for these children, taking into consideration the fact that the DNA test will no longer be necessary.

“Such help by Mesecina is necessary to many other families and individuals who are still not registered in the Birth Registry. The assistance with which this problem is to be solved is not responsibility and obligation of the civil society organizations only, but it is also a task and moral understanding of the factual situation of the country itself, in whose interest is to have more citizens with a regulated status. It is bad that the procedure is sometimes so complicated, that it instills fear to people and results in their withdrawal from the procedure”, says Toci.

Sanja Naumovska
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“Mesecina” and “Arka” work on registering adults
People are born for the second time after obtaining personal documents
Bari, Alisa, Dzejlan and a list of other names are just some of the examples for successful work of the Roma information centers of the humanitarian organization Mesecina from Gostivar. Despite being adults, they have recently been given their first birth certificate and have practically been born for the second time.
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