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Stateless family in Montenegro secures legal status after a 25-year struggle


Stateless family in Montenegro secures legal status after a 25-year struggle

Resolving statelessness is not just about obtaining legal documents, it’s also about empowering children to unlock their potential and achieve their dreams.
10 June 2024
Sadik and his wife, Buqa, believe that having a stable legal status means more than just obtaining documentation - it’s about empowering their four children to unlock their potential and achieve their dreams.

Sadik and his wife Buqa believe that having a stable legal status means more than just obtaining documentation - it’s about empowering their four children to unlock their potential and achieve their dreams.

For Sadik Hasani (30) and his family of seven, the journey out of legal invisibility in Montenegro has been a saga spanning over 25 years. Fleeing from Kosovo[1] in 1999, the Hasani family, including Sadik who was 6 at the time, found themselves without identity documents, depriving them of basic human rights and services that most of us would take for granted. The breakthrough came early this year when, with UNHCR’s support, Sadik’s wife Buqa obtained identity documents. This enabled the registration of their five children in birth registries and paved the way for them to apply for identity documents. The new legal status has opened new frontiers for the family, granting them access to healthcare, education, social assistance, and more. 


“All these years, my family suffered because we did not exist in the eyes of the law. Now I feel like I am not letting my family down anymore.”

“Now my children will be able to go to a doctor or attend school. I am overjoyed,” said Sadik with relief.

Living without legal status was particularly challenging for Sadik’s children. They were born in Montenegro but lacked citizenship and its associated rights. During the precious childhood years, statelessness can create enduring problems, limiting opportunities and exposing children to discrimination. Sadik did his best to support his family by performing various informal manual jobs, including working at the farmers market or installing ceramics and laminates. Despite his best efforts, his children often felt like outcasts, living in a dilapidated makeshift settlement and not being able to pursue an education beyond primary school due to lack of documentation. He wanted to create opportunities for his children to have a better life than he ever could.

“As a parent, I believe that education is key to creating a better future for my children. Having legal status means a whole new world of possibilities, and education will allow my children to seize these opportunities that I barely had. This isn’t just about receiving documents; it’s about creating a world where my children have plenty opportunities to achieve their dreams,” said Sadik.


The collaboration between UNHCR and the Consulate of Kosovo, established in 2019, played a crucial role in regularizing the legal status of Sadik’s children. With UNHCR’s support, the children were registered in Kosovo’s citizenship registry through its consular services in Montenegro, paving the way for them to obtain identification documents – a prerequisite for residency status in Montenegro.

“Stateless children live in a world where their status profoundly affects their ability to learn, grow, and fulfil their ambitions and dreams for the future. Unresolved legal status not only denies them rights but also significantly increases the risk of discrimination and perpetuates socio-economic vulnerability. It is heartwarming for us to see that, with UNHCR’s assistance, Sadik’s family, and especially their children, will now be able to achieve stable legal status. If we hope for a better future for the next generation, the children of this generation must be a meaningful part of the present," said Jean-Yves Bouchardy, UNHCR Representative in Montenegro.


Not being recognized as a citizen of any country can create insurmountable barriers to basic human rights, stifling life prospects. Statelessness can often have a devastating psychological toll on young people and can be passed down from parents to children, entrapping entire generations in legal limbo. This is why the acquisition of identity documents marks a turning point for Sadik’s family. His story serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of legal recognition and the enduring hope it offers to those long deprived of basic human rights.

Despite numerous achievements and progress, 400 individuals – predominantly Roma and Egyptian – continue to be at risk of statelessness in Montenegro. UNHCR’s collaborative efforts with the Ministry of Interior, diplomatic and consular missions of neighbouring countries and territories, and non-governmental organizations aim to provide targeted assistance for legal status regularization, primarily through the provision of free legal aid, financial assistance and administrative support.

[1] References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)


About the UNHCR #IBelong Campaign to end statelessness

In 2014, UNHCR launched the 10-year global #IBelong campaign with the aim to end statelessness around the world. The #IBelong Campaign has played a catalytic role in raising the profile of the problem of statelessness and in encouraging the international community to take action to resolve it. Since its launch, more than 480,000 people have acquired a nationality or had their nationality confirmed, 24 states – including seven in Europe – have acceded to one or both statelessness conventions, and more than 16 States have reformed their laws to prevent child statelessness. With the UNHCR #IBelong Campaign coming to an end in 2024, States have an opportunity to renew their commitment by joining the Global Alliance to End Statelessness, a new initiative that seeks to accelerate solutions to address statelessness.