One of the largest informal settlements (katchi abadi) in Karachi, Pakistan, Machar Colony comprises of a population of over 800,000 people. Located near the Arabian Sea, the majority of the community is involved in the fishing industry as fishermen, boat makers, shrimp peelers and drying fish for export.
63% Bengali & Burmese while the rest are Pathan, Sindhi & Mohajir.
57.7% households comprise of families with 6-10 family members.
5-15 years old is the majority age group
82.2% of the community is uneducated
63% of the community members are Bengalis & Burmese by ethnicity, majority of whom are also stateless.
By definition, stateless individuals are
“Not recognized as a national by any state under the operation of its law.”
– UNHCR official definition
Simply put, this means that a stateless person is someone who does not have the nationality of any country. Stateless communities exists due to:
- Discrimination: on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, language or gender.
- Gaps in nationality laws: individuals fall through the system due to circumstances under which someone acquires nationality or can have it withdrawn.
- Move from country of birth: conflict of nationality laws can give rise to statelessness.
- Emergence of new states and changes in borders: specific groups can be left without a nationality. In particular, ethnic, racial and religious minorities frequently have trouble proving their link to the country.
- Loss or deprivation of nationality: country specific laws can cause citizens to lose citizenship or individuals to be deprived of citizenship in specific circumstances.
- Inability to prove links to a State: being undocumented is not the same as being stateless. However, lack of birth registration can put people at risk of statelessness as a birth certificate provides proof of where a person was born and parentage.
Challenges Faced by the Community
Being underprivileged and further marginalized due to statelessness, the community faces several challenges some of which are:
- No access to higher or public education systems
- No access to public or quality healthcare
- Improper sanitation & waste management;
- Lack of job opportunities or discrimination within jobs and seasonal employment;
- Police harassment
- Insecurity for their children’s futures – statelessness is inherited.
- High level of reliance on agents who increase the chances of identity documents being blocked
Orangi Town has a population of approximately 2.4 million people and is considered one of the worlds largest slums inhabited by a diverse group of ethnicities. There is a large Bengali speaking and Bihari population in Orangi, that struggles with issues of identity and citizenship in addition to the challenges of being underprivileged.