Making Home Away

So I sat them down and told them: the five of us are here, me, you and your father, wherever the five of us are, that place should be your heaven.
Discover their stories


Current 'Home' West Midlands, UK

Wafa, a Syrian woman with refugee status in the UK, describes the feelings that arise from being constantly challenged to prove your identity:

"They asked me “Where are your documents?”  I start crying that time, yeah, the police another guys, he looking for my ID. You know what happened, he was looking at my ID (from) when I was 18, my face different. He’s looking at me, face to face, (I look) different from my ID. I told him “What you think?” In the last six months, three months, I change all my body yeah, because just all the time crying, crying, crying, crying.  It’s hard. It’s very hard when you lost someone. One year it’s hard."

When people have been forced to flee their homes amid war and chaos, having the right documents to prove their identity and claim asylum can be a major hurdle.  The UNHCR provides guidelines for refugee identity documents including international agreements that set out the obligations of countries of refuge to provide documentation to refugees who have lost their original papers.  This blog describes how, 'Without these documents, the already nightmarish scenario becomes much worse' for people attempting to navigate the complex geographical and legal channels necessary to gain refugee status and protection.


This extract is from an interview conducted in 2020 by Kalwinder Sandhu with supervision by Vicki Squire, as part of the British Academy funded ‘Lost and Found: A Digital Archive of Migration, Displacement and Resettlement’ project’s Making Home Away archive.