The girl who has never traveled farther than Skopje

For some of Lirije’s friends, the sky is the limit. For Lirije, the limit has been Skopje all her life.

After being finally enrolled in the birth registry, Lirije, 13, looks forward to being able to go to school and get the education to “become a leader” in her community, in fYR Macedonia.

Lirije Musljijevska, a 13-year-old girl, is the second child of Miftar and Aneta and she was born at home, just like 5 of her 7 siblings. Their births were not officially registered and as a result, for her whole life, Lirije has never been in possession of a birth certificate. Not having a birth certificate has also meant not having access to regular education, having to pay for basic medical care, not being able to travel abroad and not living an ordinary childhood. 

“If I’m not educated, I’d be nothing.” – Lirije Musljijevska

It was about 6 years ago when Miftar and Aneta tried to register their children for the first time, but at that point, an expensive DNA matching procedure was required to prove parenthood before receiving a birth certificate. To make things worse, the now ten-member family lives in chronic extreme poverty in a makeshift house without doors and windows and without any steady income.

The efforts of the family to register the children have been supported by the UNHCR Skopje Representation, which has, through its partner organization Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA), provided the family with free legal aid and funds to cover all administrative fees connected with the issuance of documents. In addition, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy included the family into the activity for additional registration and covered the expenses of the DNA matching procedure. As a result of the concerted efforts, over the past two months, all six previously unregistered children have been issued decisions to be additionally registered in the birth registry.

UNHCR Representative, Mr. Dag Sigurdson, said: “This story tells us that even very complex cases of statelessness can be solved if everyone works together for the well-being of the people. I am happy to learn that all children will be issued birth certificates and will consequently have full access to their rights as citizens of this country, most importantly to education, as it is only education that will help them move onto a better future.” Lawyer Aleksandra Efremova from MYLA who has been directly supporting the Rustemov-Musljijevska family says: “This ordeal has had a transforming influence on the awareness of the family. Aneta has delivered her youngest two children at the hospital, where the birth is officially recorded, which has put a stop on the vicious circle for the family. The parents now know which institution to go to and they are more self-confident in their approach to the institutions.”

As for Lirije, she still dreams of going to school and becoming a lawyer or a policewoman one day. With a birth certificate in her hand, that dream is closer to becoming a reality. Asked what she would be able to do when she finally goes to school, Lirije says: “Well I would read, I would get A’s, I would study. […] I’ll study to be a lawyer because I really want to be a lawyer.”