For the past six years, photographer Greg Constantine has worked on a long-term project called “Nowhere People.” The project documents the struggles and plight of minority groups around the world who have had their citizenship stripped or denied from them and are stateless. While people can become stateless for any number of reasons, “Nowhere People” focuses on how citizenship is used and manipulated as a tool to exclude people from belonging to mainstream society, mostly because of discrimination. More importantly, the project documents how the denial of this fundamental right to belong impacts the day-to-day lives of individuals, families and entire communities.
The World’s Stateless, an exhibition featuring a large selection of work from “Nowhere People,” is currently on view at the United Nations. From Sept 20th to October 4th, the exhibition (sponsored by the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee organization, and UPS) will stay up at the UN for the the 66th annual session of the UN General Assembly, so that diplomats and delegates can be exposed to the work. It will also be shown at the BBVA Bank Gallery in Madrid (Oct 19-Nov 7) then Royal Albert Hall in London (Nov 14- Dec 7th). The in a series of books from Constantine’s “Nowhere People” project, Kenya’s Nubians: Then & Now, will be published in October, with the second book Exiled To Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya published in April 2012.
Two unemployed young Nubians sit in a youth center in the Kibera slum in Kenya. For years, young Nubians have had to go through a nationality verification process called vetting, which makes it difficult for Nubian youth to obtain national ID cards.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Galjeel were stripped of their Kenyan identity documents and evicted from their land. All forms of identification were taken from this 43-year-old Galjeel woman as part of a screening process to identify irregular migrants from Somalia. Now her children have no identification either.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority from western Burma. The entire population of Rohingya in Burma’s North Rakhine State were stripped of their citizenship in 1982. An estimated 200,000 stateless Rohingya live in the southern part of Bangladesh.
Discriminatory changes in migration and citizenship legislation in the Dominican Republic have denied or stripped tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian ancestry of their Dominican nationality. Denied documents and citizenship, they will not be able to to go school past the 8th grade or obtain legal employment, and are vulnerable to arrest and deportation to Haiti, a county they have no connection to.