Abandoned by Saudi father, five siblings live in limbo

Five siblings have been living with no national identity for over 30 years because their father refuses to recognize them as his

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Five siblings have been living with no national identity for over 30 years because their father refuses to recognize them as his, Al-Watan newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Their father unofficially married then divorced their mother, disappearing and leaving his five children behind.

Their non-Saudi mother tried multiple times to obtain a national identity but her circumstances made the process very complicated for her.

The mother died and her children were left to continue a life without any official identity.

They were not able to receive any public education, health care or even work.

Now they are being threatened with eviction from their place of residence.

The eldest son Waheed Al-Garni, 30, said: “It all started when my father left our non-Saudi mother without any documentation of our existence.

“We are three boys and two girls. My parents don’t even have a marriage contract for us to go by.

“My dad only left his national ID that states he is Saudi. He did not even issue a family register for us.”

Al-Garni added that he contacted his father after his mother’s death and tried to convince him to help them obtain IDs.

“He would just give excuses and bail every time we tried. I don’t understand why he is doing this.

“We are his own children but we have no proof to go by.”

Al-Garni said they have submitted a request for a national ID to the Civil Affairs Department in Jeddah but the papers were rejected.

“They required the presence of our guardian since my father has a civil number.

“Our other option is to go to the municipality with an acting guardian and present our case.

“We did go to the municipality two years ago and requested from them to bring our father forcibly but nothing happened.”

Al-Garni is carrying the burden of providing for his siblings with no education or employment.

One of his brothers needs medical care as he was involved in a car accident.

“It’s not only about our education and employment. We are constantly asked for our ID whenever we want to either cross city borders or inspected by the deportation police.

“Every time we have to explain the entire story of our situation.

“We are Saudis and because of what our father did to us, we are robbed of our basic rights.”

Spokesman for the Civil Affairs Department Mohammad Al-Jasser said: “Every marriage should involve the signing of a marriage contract and birth certificates should be issued for any children and they must contain their mother’s name and nationality. Anything else is a breach of the law.

“In the situation of a correct marriage but no birth certificates for the children, the father must come forth and confirm his paternity over the children.

“If the father refuses to do so, the children may refer to the court to claim their right.”

Lawyer Rayan Mufti said: “Children who are the result of unlawful marriages must seek legal help. This is a phenomenon in our society, one in which the children always suffer.

“Waheed and his family must prove the marriage of his parents.

“Because of the absence of a marriage contract, they cannot benefit from the e-services of the Civil Affairs.

“In this case, a DNA test must be conducted to prove who their parents are.”

He added that the children could either track down their relatives from either side, the official who solemnized the marriage of their parents or the witnesses who were there at the marriage ceremony.

This story was originally posted on the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 24, 2014.