The lost children of Côte d’Ivoire
Denied a nationality and deprived of their basic human rights, stateless people in Côte d’Ivoire cannot go to high school, get a formal job, open a bank account, own land, travel freely or vote.
Far from being a problem that affects a small minority, the Ivoirian Government estimates there are close to 700,000 people living in Côte d’Ivoire who are currently stateless or at risk of statelessness.
There are two main reasons for this situation. During colonial times many people were brought into the country from what is now neighboring Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea to work on plantations and did not receive nationality when the country gained independence. Their descendants still have no nationality despite having been in the country for generations.
The other is because there is no provision in national law to give nationality to abandoned children also known as foundlings. UNHCR estimates that there 300,000 stateless people living in Côte d’Ivoire because of this.
This is the story of three children who have grown up in Côte d’Ivoire without a nationality because one of both of their parents abandoned them.