x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'I am scared I will be jailed', says UAE illegal

A woman struggles to comply with the UAE amnesty for illegals as she tries to get papers for her daughter born out of wedlock.

Indian illegal Yakub Bhi, is afraid that her daughter Maryiam, 8, has little chance to leave the UAE on time as the amesty draws to a close. Pawan Singh / The National
Indian illegal Yakub Bhi, is afraid that her daughter Maryiam, 8, has little chance to leave the UAE on time as the amesty draws to a close. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // An Indian woman who has lived in the UAE illegally for 11 years wants to return home under the amnesty along with her daughter, who was born in the country but has no passport or visa.

But with the visa amnesty deadline about to expire, Yakub Bhi, 42, and her daughter, Mariyam, 8, have little chance of being able to leave on time.

"Mariyam has no papers or birth certificate and it's difficult to get her documents," said Ms Bhi, who lives in Hor Al Anz, Deira.

"I tried leaving during the last amnesty but I don't have any papers for my daughter. She was born at home with the help of neighbours. I never registered her birth and cannot prove her nationality."

Sanjay Verma, the Indian consul general, said yesterday the consulate was processing the girl's papers. "We are working late and will ensure she gets her emergency certificate today," he said, adding that people should approach missions on time. "People lose time in approaching missions. They should come to the consulate directly."

Ms Bhi came to the Emirates to work as a housemaid but left the job two years later. She has given a letter to the Indian consulate acknowledging that Mariyam was born out of wedlock.

"Her father and I never married and he left the country five years ago," Ms Bhi said. "I haven't been in touch with him since."

After she approached the Valley of Love, a non-profit organisation in Dubai, a month ago for help, volunteers tried locating the child's father in India.

"We sent a representative to speak to the father," said CP Mathew, founder of the organisation. "But, he refused to acknowledge Mariyam was his daughter. If he had given a written affidavit stating she was his daughter, this would have been much easier."

He said once Mariyam's emergency certificate was issued, the family could leave immediately. Ms Bhi, whose passport has expired, has been issued an emergency certificate by the consulate. She is aware she could face fines after the amnesty deadline expires.

"As soon as we receive my daughter's emergency certificate, we will apply for a passport. We will pay the fines as long as it is not running into thousands. I just want to go back home now."

She said the only option now was to return to her family and give her daughter a better life, instead of living in fear of deportation.

"I am scared I'll be caught and jailed. Authorities are looking for people like us and no one wants to employ illegal nationals any more."

Mariyam, who has lived all her life in Dubai, said she was looking forward to meeting relatives and, more importantly, starting school.

"I want to go to school and learn English like children of my age," she said. "I used to be at a babysitter's place when my mother used to go to work. I learnt the names of fruits, vegetables and some numbers. I will learn more when I go to a proper school."

pkannan@thenational.ae