15 million stateless people worldwide suffer rejection day after day. The issue of statelessness should be urgently addressed and stateless populations around the world need to be protected from severe and continuous violation of their human rights.
Access of stateless people to health services, employment, education, property ownership and travel is severely restricted and they face detention and inability to obtain identity papers. They are denied the most basic of rights and are vulnerable to trafficking.
Universal birth registration procedures should be launched. Many countries are still not part of the stateless treaties, exclusionary policies, gender-discriminatory legislations, etc., which are at the root of many statelessness situations and should end.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), national governments, aid and civil society organizations, etc., need to put more efforts to highlight and improve the plight of this most invisible population of the world. Something needs to be emergently done for stateless Roma in Europe, Myanmar Rohingyas, Kenya Nubians, ethnic Russians in Latvia and Estonia, Syrian Kurds, Kuwait Bedoun, children in Sabah (Malaysia), Dominicans of Haitian descent, Ivory Coast immigrants, unconfirmed nationals in Nepal, and ethnic hill tribes of Thailand.
Leaders of various religions/denominations, including His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, should also come forward and advocate on behalf of stateless as religions told us to help the helpless.
UNHCR says “statelessness refers to the condition of an individual who is not considered as a national by any state”. Countries with most stateless populations include Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Syria, Iraq, Estonia and Kenya.
Launched in 1950 and headquartered in Geneva (Switzerland), UNHCR "has a mandate to help stateless people". António Guterres and T. Alexander Aleinikoff are its High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner respectively and Hollywood movie star Angelina Jolie is one of its Goodwill Ambassadors.
August 24, 2011