General Conference

ADRA Reunites Rocki with His Son

A story of statelessness and human rights

Belgium | Maja Ahac, with tedNEWS

Human Rights Day is observed annually on 10 December. Designated by the United Nations in 1948, this is an important day for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), which seeks to protect the inalienable rights of every human, regardless of race, colour, sex, property, or status.

“As we reflect on human rights this year, we cannot help but think of the many individuals worldwide who suffer unspeakable inequality and whose human rights are being violated,” said Maja Ahac, head of Advocacy for ADRA Europe. “The story of Rocki Rakić, a stateless person, is a prime example of the conditionality of our rights.”

Rocki Rakić was born in 1992 in an informal refugee camp in Italy. As he grew up, he started a family in Germany but was repeatedly deported to Serbia. Rocki’s mother lived in extreme poverty and gave birth to him in an informal setting, so she did not register him with the Italian authorities. After a few years, the family applied for asylum in Germany, where Rocki lived and fathered a son. However, when Rocki reached his 18th birthday and legally became an adult, he was deported to Serbia.

Rocki had never visited Serbia before, nor could he speak the language. However, based on his mother’s nationality, he was deported there. Without any identity documents, Rocki could not get a job, find accommodation, get medical assistance, or, most crucially, see his son. “Rocki was deported three times before getting in touch with ADRA Serbia. It took a two-year-long legal battle for Rocki to obtain his documentation and become ‘a person’”, Ahac reflected.

ADRA protects people on the margins, who are often invisible and at risk of falling through the cracks of the legal system. Drumodom, the ADRA project in Serbia, focuses on providing support for undocumented and homeless people. These people find themselves in an impossibly vulnerable position. 

“All human beings might be born free and equal in dignity and rights. However, it seems that the exercise of their rights is conditional on having documents”, said Ahac. “This is the reason why today, and every day, we are called to stand up for human rights. Equality, justice, and freedom are core gospel values that prevent violence and sustain peace.”

This article was originally published on the Trans-European Division’s news site