Abdul Aziz bails out of UAE to keep daughters school-free

Image copyright Alaa Sakka Image caption Solow Ahmed Shoora said she was targeted by the police

A two-year-old girl and her newborn baby sibling are facing delays in receiving birth certificates because her father has fled the United Arab Emirates.

Her mother, Solow Ahmed Shoora, said the mother of the two had abandoned the family, leaving no witnesses to the births.

Failing to submit a birth certificate for the second child is making it difficult for the boy and girl to access schooling, Ms Shoora said.

The Emirati authorities have declined to comment on Ms Shoora’s claims.

It is not clear how the woman deserted the children or why she fled the United Arab Emirates. But police in Sharjah, the Emirati capital, told BBC Arabic they questioned the mother last year about abandoning the children, with a warrant issued for her arrest.

‘Evidence kept away’

The woman was taken into protective custody in March after the matter was reported to the police.

The baby was born before the warrant and certificate could be served on her mother. The woman took refuge in Kuwait.

Ms Shoora was due to receive a certificate for her daughter this week. Now the mother is back in the UAE and Ms Shoora is working to get a birth certificate for her son.

Ms Shoora has told reporters in Sharjah she was targeted by the police and put into police custody for 14 days before being released.

The mother of the child has not been contacted by the police, Ms Shoora said.

“We hope that the government of Sharjah will take up this issue and that the police will learn their lesson from the first time,” Ms Shoora said.

Police should bring justice and compassion to every case, said the mother, without revealing any further details about her daughter’s circumstances.

Image copyright Alaa Sakka Image caption How a birth certificate is obtained in the UAE

Ms Shoora, an Emirati citizen, told reporters she was stunned by her daughter’s birth. The couple separated after she became pregnant, she said.

Now she and her two children live in Dubai with her mother. But Ms Shoora has now sold their home in Sharjah and moved to Sharjah because she has a limited number of choices.

Banned access to school

There are no state education facilities in the UAE for the second child. The only option is learning in private kindergarten or primary school, Ms Shoora said.

“All the children cannot attend school together, and this is where I am vulnerable,” she said.

The UAE has a strict criteria for obtaining a birth certificate. A number of strict requirements must be met.

There must be evidence that the mother had an unmarried pregnancy, and a judge or justice should ratify the child’s birth.

According to Emirati law, a child must be aged nine or over before it is allowed to attend school.

Image copyright Alaa Sakka Image caption Alaa Sakka said school is the only chance the children have to access education

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Alaa Sakka said he recently received a phone call from an official in Sharjah telling him he could apply for a birth certificate. But he said he had to jump through too many hoops, especially because the application would entail paying a fee.

The UAE civil code does not explicitly state how a birth certificate should be obtained, but it encourages citizens to obtain documents such as passports or voter cards.

The UAE is a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and is an oil-rich monarchy. It has hosted numerous summits for states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE does not recognise dual nationality, and citizens from other Gulf countries are denied nationality.

Nationality is also essential to registering children in school. A 2017 public sector survey found that about a quarter of schools in the UAE do not register children without UAE nationality.

Ms Shoora says she has faced bullying in her son’s school because of her nationality.

“My son is always seeing racial comments and this impacts my feelings,” she said.

“They do not understand that it is not their fault. As a person, I find it very painful. They seem to be aware of what it means but they are not themselves affected.”

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