UN refugee agency launches campaign to end statelessness
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have launched a global campaign, I Belong, that aims to end statelessness by 2024
Currently, the UNHCR estimates at least ten million people are stateless, meaning they are not considered nationals by any country.
As a consequence of this condition, they are denied access to education and health services and are generally deemed unemployable. A lack of nationality is synonymous with minimal human rights and exclusion from society in general.
António Guterres, UN high commissioner for refugees, described statelessness as “a profound violation of an individual’s human rights”.
He went on to say: “It would be deeply unethical to perpetuate the pain it causes when the solutions are so clearly within reach.”
Today celebrities and world opinion leaders released an open letter calling for the elimination of statelessness.
Angelina Jolie, a UNHCR special envoy and actress, was amongst the signatories. She stated: “It is both an obligation and an opportunity for governments everywhere to put an end to this exclusion.”
The UNHCR campaign aims to resolve the issue by granting nationality to stateless children and offering ethnic minorities citizenship.
A Special Report on Statelessness has also been released, underlining the human effects of the phenomenon alongside a ten-point Global Action Plan to End Statelessness.
Discriminatory politics, based on ethnicity, religion or gender, can often be seen as the primary facilitator of statelessness.
In the Middle East and other parts of the world, statelessness is commonly caused by gender-discriminatory legislation. At present, women are denied the right to pass their nationality on to their children in 27 countries, a legality that is prominent in the creation of a stateless generation.
The UN first addressed the phenomenon with the 1954 convention relation to the status of stateless persons. However, although an increasing number of countries have changed their nationality laws to end statelessness, the issue remains a pertinent one that inevitably requires more attention.
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