Statelessness: UNHCR report warns of adverse effect on children, nations

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Abuja – The UN High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) has warned statelessness would have adverse effect on children and nations, if urgent actions were not implemented to curb the situation.

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A statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the UNHCR gave the warning in a report it released at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The statement said that the report was released one year after the UNHCR launched the 10-year “#IBelong global Campaign’’ to end Statelessness by 2024.

It quoted the report as saying that stateless children across the world share feelings of discrimination, frustration and despair.

It said the report, therefore, called for urgent action to be taken before the statelessness phenomenon evolved into problems capable of haunting the childhood of its victims.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]

According to the statement, the UN describes statelessness as a situation in which an individual is not considered a national by any state under the operation of its laws.

The world body notes that such a person is said to be invisible, without an identity and deprived of his or her fundamental human rights.

The statement said that Mr António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, noted that the report highlighted the need to end the suffering of children in a world where a child is born stateless at least every 10 minutes.

“In the short time that children get to be children, statelessness can set in stone grave problems that will haunt them throughout their childhood.

“It would sentence them to a life of discrimination, frustration and despair. None of our children should be stateless; all children should belong.

“The report contained the first geographically diverse survey of the views of stateless children who revealed the common problems they faced in the countries,’’ Guterres was quoted as saying in the report.

According to the statement, being stateless takes a psychological toll on stateless children, affecting their ability to enjoy childhood, live a healthy life, study and fulfil their ambitions.

It said that the report noted that children from seven countries interviewed in line with the campaign “I Belong: the Urgent Need to End Childhood Statelessness’’ described themselves as “invisible’’, “alien”, “living in a shadow”, “like a street dog” and “worthless’’.

It said that Guterres, would on Tuesday at the UN Headquarters in New York, present the report at a high-level panel discussion on the importance of the right to nationality.

“Stateless children say they are often treated like foreigners in the country they have lived in all their lives.

“Stateless young people are often denied the opportunity to receive school qualifications, go to university, find decent jobs, face discrimination, harassment by authorities and are more vulnerable to exploitation.

“Their lack of nationality often sentences them and their families and communities to remain impoverished and marginalized for generations,’’ the statement quoted the report as saying.

It stated that more than 250 people, including children, youths, their parents or guardians were interviewed in Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia and Thailand last July and August for the report.

In the report, UNHCR has urged states to take steps in eradicating statelessness and reform nationality laws that put children born at the risk of statelessness.
“Children should gain the nationality of the country in which they are born, if they would otherwise be stateless.

“Countries should eliminate laws and practices that deny children nationality based on ethnicity, race or religion.

“Countries should reform laws that prevent mothers from passing their nationality to their children on an equal basis as fathers and ensure universal birth registration to prevent statelessness,’’ it stated. (NAN)


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