UNHCR Cyprus meets with President of the House of Representatives on the issue of Statelessness
Today the UNHCR Representative in Cyprus, Katja Saha visited the President of the House of Representatives, Demetris Syllouris to deliver a specially created gift-bag dedicated to raising awareness on the issue of statelessness. The gift-bag contains a set of #IBELONG campaign materials, along with key documents such as the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and special reports issued by UNHCR including I AM HERE, I BELONG: The Urgent Need to End Childhood Statelessness.
“UNHCR is making an intensified effort for all countries to ratify the statelessness convention,” Saha said. “At present only Cyprus, Malta, Poland and Estonia are the EU members that have not ratified the convention.” Saha expressed UNHCR’s hope that the Republic of Cyprus will soon fulfill the pledges made by the European Union to achieve ratification of the 1954 Convention by all its Member States.
The President of the House pledged to study the matter until the middle of January.
UNHCR is the UN agency entrusted by the UN General Assembly with the responsibility to prevent and reduce statelessness and protect the rights of stateless persons. Statelessness currently affects over 10 million persons worldwide; these are people who live in a legal limbo, unable to enjoy fundamental human rights.
The international legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.” In simple terms, this means that a stateless person does not have a nationality of any country. Some people are born stateless, but others become stateless.
Statelessness can occur for several reasons, including discrimination against particular ethnic or religious groups, or on the basis of gender; the emergence of new States and transfers of territory between existing States; and gaps in nationality laws. Whatever the cause, statelessness has serious consequences for people in almost every country and in all regions of the world.
The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons remains the only international treaty aimed specifically at regulating the standards of treatment for stateless persons. Accession to the Convention therefore is of critical importance in ensuring the protection of this vulnerable group.