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UNHCR commemorates 2 years of the #IBelong campaign to eradicate global statelessness

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UNHCR commemorates 2 years of the #IBelong campaign to eradicate global statelessness

27 October 2016

Campaign to end Statelessness marks its second year noting progress – and challenges ahead.

Significant progress has been made to eradicate statelessness around the world, but ongoing conflicts are putting those advances at risk. Marking the second anniversary of the global #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi, renewed the call for a concerted effort by the international community to put an end to statelessness- a human rights injustice that affects at least 10 million people globally.

Since the #IBelong Campaign was launched in 2014 with the ambition of wiping out statelessness by 2024, ten additional States have become Parties to the UN Statelessness Conventions- treaties that contain measures to help prevent and reduce statelessness.  In addition, countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Thailand have made significant strides to reduce the number of stateless persons in their respective territories. Thailand, for example, has confirmed Thai nationality for some 23,000 formerly stateless persons over the last three and a half years. 

In Kenya, the Government has recently promised to grant citizenship to the Makonde, an ethnic minority group of approximately 6,000 people with origins in Mozambique, many of whom have lived in Kenya since the State’s independence more than half a century ago

At today’s event at UNHCR’s headquarters in Geneva,the High Commissioner also highlighted the link between the proliferation of conflicts and the risk of statelessness, especially for children. UNHCR’s report “In Search of Solutions: Addressing Statelessness in the Middle East and North Africa” highlights that Syrian children are at particular risk. Since Syrian law prohibits women from transferring their nationality to their children and since one fourth of Syrian refugee households have no father present, there’s a danger that some of the 300,000 children born in exile during the war will end up stateless. The UN High Commissioner noted that the effects of statelessness, especially for children, are acute. 

“Invisible is the word most commonly used to describe what it is like to be without a nationality”, said Mr. Grandi. “For stateless children and youth, being ‘invisible’ can mean missing out on educational opportunities, being marginalised in the playground, being ignored by healthcare providers, being overlooked when it comes to employment opportunities, and being silenced if they question the status quo.”

In the coming year, one of the key activities of UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign will be to encourage States to remove all forms of discrimination, including gender discrimination, from nationality laws in order to prevent similar situations from arising in the future.

To find out more about what UNHCR is doing to end global statelessness, please consult the UNHCR/IBelong site

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