Ana Mezga moved from Croatia to Slovenia when she was 14. She went to school, got a job and started a family with two children. However, on 26 February 1992, thirteen years after her arrival, she had her residency status automatically taken away – along with 25,671 other people.
After Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, citizens of other former Yugolsav republics living in the country were given a deadline to acquire Slovenian citizenship. According to Mrs Mezga, she had no idea that she was meant to do this. Those who failed to get citizenship automatically lost their “permanently resident” status– without being notified.
Suddenly, the “erased” became foreign citizens or stateless people living illegally in Slovenia. Many had their papers taken away, were evicted from apartments, could not work or travel, lost personal possessions or lived in poor conditions.
According to Ana Mezga, she lost her job, had her apartment seized and her two children were taken away into foster care. She worked on the black market, but as a result she could not obtain health insurance. This meant that she gave birth to two children without ever seeing a doctor. She said that, due to her sense of guilt at losing her two older children, she tried to commit suicide several times.