|Photo courtesy: laweekly.com|
*Who is a “Moualled”? In Yemeni society, the term is used to designate a person who has a non-Yemeni parent. It can also refer, in the most extreme cases of Yemeni xenophobia, to someone who has any non-Yemeni ethnic roots, even if it was a great grandfather. They would be designated according to those other roots, for instance, an Egyptian Moualled, or an Ethiopian Moualled and so forth. As an Ethiopian Moualled who is well aware of the complexity of such a dual identity, I can't but think of other Moualleds in these times of war in Yemen.
Two years have passed since the war began in Yemen. The vast majority of people are living under a suffocating siege while bombs rain down on them from the sky and an unending armed conflict threatens them from the ground.
Today, Yemen is under siege from the air, land, and sea. As a result, the country is witnessing one of the largest movements of displacement in the world reaching more than 3 million displaced. Yemenis have nowhere to escape to, however. For Moualleds, even if the chance of escaping presents itself, it is extremely difficult and complicated as they are living with a dual identity both culturally and on paper.
Before the war
To understand this complexity, a brief description of a Moualled's life before the war might help. There are no exact statistics about the numbers of Moualleds in Yemen because of the absence of state institutions responsible for this category of people. Furthermore, Moualleds themselves do not usually want to expose their other ethnic roots. This might be related to the complexity of civil laws in the two countries when it comes to carriers of dual passports.
From my personal experience in dealing with Ethiopian-Yemeni Moualleds in particular, I have found that large numbers have tried to hide their dual identity as a way to deal with the racist atmosphere in the country. In Yemen, many having dual citizenship might often lead to discrimination and ridicule.
Yemeni society is generally homogeneous and people tend to prefer a homogeneity. Large parts of society are suspicious of ethnic and cultural plurality and diversity. Moualleds, therefore, find themselves facing one of two hard choices: To expose their other identity and face the racist consequences or to hide it and struggle to prove that they are 100% Yemeni, including using only one passport.
|Photo courtesy: Raseef22.com|
The war begins
Moualleds who decided to only have Yemeni citizenship and hide any other roots fell into a legal trap during the war. Many of them have regretted their choice, especially when several embassies announced that they were repatriating their citizens living in Yemen. Ethiopians quickly headed to their embassy including Ethiopian-Yemeni Moualleds despite the fact that many of them did not have the Ethiopian nationality. They were hoping that their Ethiopian roots would be recognized and that the embassy will repatriate them as well. But the lack of documentation meant that no help was provided.