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Paperless - Living in Limbo

Ric Francis | Norway

December 21, 2018 - Oslo, Norway - Najah Alnasrawi, 46, an Iraqi asylum seeker, told immigration officials that she initially went to Turkey to escape her ex-husband, who was bent on killing her after she bought shame to his name through a divorce. "I was pressured to leave Turkey after some in its religious community discovered I was sought in Iraq by my physically abusive ex-husband." Najah arrived in Norway during October 2015 and since her second rejection for asylum has adopted a nomadic lifestyle; she lives for several days at a time (a week or two if she's lucky) with friends she made at refugee camps. Here she calls friends to find a place to stay for the next week.This is the apartment of a Palestinian friend who permits her to sleep on the sofa, where she stores her belongings on its side. Her friend has family visiting for the holidays from Sweden and told Najah that she needs the space.

Many asylum seekers in Norway, whose applications for asylum have been twice rejected, adopt a nomadic lifestyle to avoid deportation. Increasingly, the government views them as a hindrance, a liability, a threat - the Other who does not belong.

Commonly, twice rejected asylum seekers avoid staying at asylum camps because the police are notorious for carrying out early morning arrest against those who have lost their asylum status. Thus, they live for days at a time (a week or two if lucky) at the homes of friends they made at the camps; short stays reduce the likelihood of wearing out one’s welcome. This state of limbo speaks to the impact of right-wing nationalism in Europe and North America, where the inability of governments to deal with challenges posed by asylum seekers has led to xenophobic policies.

Through documentation of asylum seekers’ daily lives this project provides a glimpse into the otherness of Others, who are in need of a safe place.

A theme that is central to my photography is that of marginalized people being disparaged as Other. I seek to highlight the resilence, normalcy, estrangement and injustice that characterizes the lives of such individuals.

In regards to asylum seekers it is important to note that whether the impetus to flee their homelands was provided by violence, authoritarian governments, poverty or armed conflict, they share a common humanity with citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.

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