In a significant step to end statelessness on its territory, Turkmenistan has granted citizenship to 2,580 people, following issuance of a Presidential Decree on the subject this month.
Sixty per cent of those intended to benefit from the Decree are stateless women, representing 19 ethnic backgrounds.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warmly welcomes this measure, the latest in a series of steps taken by the Central Asian state to address statelessness.
Over the last 15 years, Turkmenistan has granted citizenship to 26,000 refugees and stateless people. These include some 13,000 stateless people who have been naturalized since the country acceded to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons in 2011.
In July this year, a new Law on Civil Status Acts helped to prevent childhood statelessness by ensuring that all children born in the country – including those with undocumented parents – have their births registered. The new law and the resolution of existing cases of statelessness follow on commitments Turkmenistan made at a high-level event on statelessness UNHCR convened in 2019.
In the framework of the global #IBelong Campaign to eradicate statelessness by 2024, UNHCR has been working closely with the Government of Turkmenistan on statelessness prevention and resolution efforts.
“Turkmenistan has once again shown its strong leadership when it comes to eradicating statelessness, ending a plight of invisibility for thousands of people. We are confident that it will follow through to resolve statelessness and integrate each and every stateless person on its territory in the coming years, hopefully by 2024,” said Mr. Hans Friedrich Schodder, UNHCR Representative for Central Asia.
Statelessness affects millions of people around the world, often denying them access to basic rights that citizens take for granted. Some 4.2 million stateless people appear in the statistical reporting of 79 countries, but UNHCR estimates the actual extent of statelessness to be much higher.