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UNHCR reports progress on tackling statelessness

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UNHCR reports progress on tackling statelessness

4 November 2023
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Important results have been achieved worldwide this year to help resolve the devastating impact of statelessness, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reports today as it marks the 9th anniversary of its decade-long #IBelong campaign.

In 2023, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Moldova introduced legislative safeguards to help prevent statelessness at birth. Portugal approved a legal framework regulating statelessness status, including the establishment of a statelessness determination procedure.  North Macedonia amended its laws to allow stateless people to acquire nationality and ensure birth registration for all children born in the country regardless of whether their parents are undocumented or stateless. The Republic of the Congo has become the latest country to accede to the Statelessness Conventions.  

This year alone, around 7,000 stateless people from the Pemba community were confirmed as Kenyan citizens and more than 3,000 individuals who were at risk of statelessness were granted nationality in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

In total, 97 countries are now party to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and 79 to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Dozens of countries have also introduced safeguards in their laws to prevent statelessness or established procedures to protect stateless people. 

“The progress made in combatting statelessness is positive and we commend states for taking action. But it is not enough.  With rising global forced displacement, millions are being left on the margins, deprived of their basic human rights, including participating in and contributing to society. This exclusion is unjust and must be addressed,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.  

At least 4.4 million people in 95 countries are reported to be stateless or of undetermined nationality. The global figure is widely recognized to be significantly higher given the relative invisibility of stateless people in national statistical exercises. 

Not recognized as citizens of any country, stateless people are often deprived of human rights and access to basic services, often leaving them politically and economically marginalized and vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation, and abuse. A disproportionate number of the world’s stateless people are members of minority groups, for which statelessness tends to perpetuate and worsen the discrimination and marginalization they already face. 

“Though statelessness has many causes, in many instances it can be resolved through simple legislative and policy changes. I call upon states worldwide to take immediate action and ensure no one is left behind,” said Grandi.