To be or not to be Chadian? Fleeing Central Africans defy traditional ideas of nationality

Published: 31/Aug/2017
Source: Radio France International (RFI)

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

For Idrissa Haroum, the decision was pure and simple– he wants to live where he is accepted. The 55-year-old Muslim from the Central African Republic says that he was called a Chadian in his own country. He now owns that moniker, and has the birth certificate to prove it.

“I was 100 percent Central African. From the moment of Bokassa, Kolingba, up until Bozizé and Djotodia, I have been Central African,” he says, rattling off the names of former heads of state of CAR. “But from the time I arrived here, I recognized in my head that I’m a Chadian, 100 per cent,” says Haroum, who is classified as a returnee.

The Chadian government, along with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has worked towards recognizing those Central Africans who claim to have Chadian ancestry. In 2013, Chadian President Idriss Deby called for Central Africans who were originally Chadian to come to his country if they felt persecuted. Landlocked Chad shares its southern border with Central African Republic, and Haroum’s dilemma is particularly found in southern Chad as RFI witnessed.

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Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Nationality and Refugees
Regions: Central African Republic, Chad
Year: 2017