What does Norway look like for a paperless person?

Posted by Dana Mahmoud on 17. April 2012 in Humanrights, Multimedia, Politics |


Mentally Tired, Emotionally drained, sick of life, mentally tortured…These are common phrases that became part of my daily life, the day I’m not saying them loud, I’m thinking them, or I can see them written silently on my mother and sister faces. When I first arrived in Norway it was the 23rd of December 2008, by the time we were allowed to be placed in an asylum reception and had some rest, the people in Tanum were making gløgg and giving away julekake, they were in a good mood and everyone were excited to tell us what jul means to Norwegians. I thought the rest of our days will be like this, especially that the asylum reception we were placed at afterwards used to be a hotel on top of a mountain that is close to a ski center.

Then life started, we were transferred to an isolated village in the southern Norway, which has only 1200 living souls according to Wikipedia, mostly are older and they like to keep it to themselves. Which is nothing close to what I was used to back in the United Arab Emirates where I always lived in a city and always been able to have a busy social life.
We have accepted our new reality, after all, we know it is not a choice that we can make and the Norwegians in the asylum reception were so friendly and wanted to know more about our culture, our food, and us. Walls started to grow taller around me in the asylum reception, especially when I was offered a job in an international NGO that is based in Oslo and my request for a work permit was rejected.
By then 22 months almost passed by and we didn’t get any answer about our asylum application, it’s not easy to feel that our whole life is on hold because we are lacking papers, which is the main reason why we came to Norway to seek protection from this situation. Then the first rejection came from UDI, asking us to appeal without defining a destination that we can go back to. UNE answered us also with a negative answer, asking us to go back to the United Arab Emirates.
I saw cases in the asylum reception where people got rejected the first time and then they reverted their rejection into acceptance the second time, but when we were rejected from UNE I knew the road was not going to be any easier and I started to lose hope, I’m not allowed to work, I’m not allowed to study since I can’t open a bank account and deposit the money required for foreign students.
I knew my life have stopped right there, someone had pushed the pause button and forget to start my life again, left the room, switched off the lights, left us in the dark in one bedroom with small kitchenette and a bathroom and very little amount of money every two weeks to stock our fridge with, without knowing what tomorrow is hiding for us.
Life became a collection of insomnia, nightmares and strong negative feelings toward everything, until the Palestinians decided to sleep in the streets to show the government what a great mistake they are doing by treating refugees like this, especially us Palestinians who have been refugees for generations and we feel it’s time for us to rest. I am grateful, because through them I was able to meet many brave, proactive Norwegians who are refusing their government practices against refugees and against undocumented and who want to make a real difference. Every day I meet a new face I know our number is growing bigger and we are able to convey our message to even more people who are in most cases were not reacting because they were not aware of the situation and the reality of us the undocumented.


The above is part of my speech, during a great project called atelier populaire, this project is taking place in Oslo these days and it’ll continue until the 27th of April 2012, I advise everyone to pay them a visit to get more information about the inhumane asylum policies in Norway and how can it be changed.

For more information about atelier populaire please visit the following link,


To see my speech on youtube, please follow this link,


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My family is originally Palestinian from Haifa. My grandparents (from both sides) were born in Haifa, which is now part of Israel. In 1948, during the conflict that followed the 1947 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (11) ‘Future Government of Palestine’ (also called the Partition Plan for Palestine), my grandparents, on both sides, left for safety to Basra, Iraq. For 6 months they were in flight because of the violence and death that broke out in the Haifa region. Then they moved to Baghdad, Iraq. I call myself a Palestinian Iraqi female. I used to hold an Iraqi document that allowed me to legally live in Iraq and other countries, including the UAE – United Arab Emirates. This document was valid for me and my family until 2006. As a result of the war my family and I became stateless. In 2008, I applied for asylum, in Norway, for myself and my family. But we were refused legal permissions. In the process I applied with the UDI – the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration. We were refused after 22 months of waiting. I appealed the decision, but it was rejected. Why? For two reasons: Because our 1948 document of permissions from Iraq had been discontinued. Also, because we came to Norway, not from Iraq, but via the United Arab Emirates. Because of this, were not considered war victims. we could not return to the UAE or to Iraq legally. We feel we have been left with no life. We have no passports. No way of legal travel. No valid residency. No official recognition from the countries of our past. No recognition inside the country of our future – Norway where we now live. Now our future is vague. We are adrift, in pain, with no legal place to go. We are stateless and paperless. For the full story please check:

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  • Rana says:

    thank you for what you said, you really described the situation we are suffering here in Norway, we came to feel safe and live our life as humans, but what is happening here is totally different of what we thought at the first, thank you again.
    God Bless you and i hope you get the residence soon <3

  • uneulv says:

    Good blog and sad but interesting reading. If these reports get more widely known, the Norwegians will no longer get away with their image of being honest people running a modern and humane country. There are some Norwegians though who are truly human. On the other hand, there are also Non-Norwegians who represent the negative aspects of this country fully and fit in perfectly. It seems it is more a totally rotten society here at present and it is not so much about being Norwegian or not. It is just very sad given the potential this country has, but a country gets only as good as its people (regardless their cultural background). It is not the government that is to blame, since this is a democracy

  • Dana Mahmoud says:

    Thanks for reading uneulv, the problem is not the people, many undocumented are surviving now because of the kind Norwegians. The real problem in my opinion are the ones who think voters will only make them win if they somehow were able to get number of refugees down, These exact people when they meet us personally they start acting differently when they find out what is our story and they want to help in every way possible. It’s a democracy in Norway but the people are left in the dark when it comes to asylum policies they tell them we follow the most humane policies while they are not and they are also breaking couple of international laws and so on. Yes the wider these stories spread the more awareness we are going to gift to people and they’ll eventually support us!
    Thanks for reading 🙂

  • sam says:

    great and heart breaking how people are treate…and forgot that its fellow human beings and the only mistake you did was being born in to a conflict ridden area…keep z fight.i’m with you with my prayers.

    • Dana Mahmoud says:

      Thanks Sam for reading!
      I hope one day to live to see justice for all refugees around the world, prayers is good enough, after all so much positive thinking can lead to positive changes 😀

  • Abby Minda says:

    In every camp you can find such shocking stories. Stories that will melt your souls, If it was not for the asylum system, the years we spent in these camps may change the course of our life.Who knows what we can provide for this country? What I don’t always understand is that,in the eyes of the UDI,psychological torture in and around around asylmottaks is may be considered as a necessary passage and a difficult transition to finally let tings go of. But for How long? Even prisoners gets basic life-skill training’s while they were in jails, But here some of us even forgotten for years. Anyways, What you did was great I hope things will change.

  • dana says:

    Thanks Abby, I know it’s not an easy thing to do…Life is not easy in general but as you said what hurt the most is lack of training, lack of activities, you even forgot what you have learned in the past, or as I like to call it the pre-Norway period 🙂
    I hope soon this will lead to a positive change, yes!
    Thanks for reading 🙂

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