Statelessness, an affront to humanity that must end – UNHCR


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The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has called on the Federal and state governments in Nigeria and across the world to help put an end to “statelessness’’.

A statement issued by the UNHCR Country office in Nigeria on Wednesday, quoted the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi as describing statelessness as an affront to humanity that must be curbed.

Grandi made the call during the celebration of the sixth anniversary of UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign, aimed at ending statelessness by 2024.

He called on world leaders to include and protect stateless populations and make bold and swift moves to eradicate statelessness.

According to the UN body, COVID-19 has gravely worsened the plight of millions of stateless people worldwide.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown more than ever the need for inclusion and the urgency to resolve statelessness.

“A pandemic doesn’t discriminate between citizens and non-citizens. It is not in any state, society or community’s interest for people to be left stateless and living on the margins of society,’’Grandi said.

According to him, we must redouble efforts to resolve this affront to humanity in the 21st century.

“To protect and save lives, we urge governments to resolve statelessness and make sure that no one is left behind,”Grandi added.

The statement also quoted, Chansa Kapaya, UNHCR Representative in Nigeria as calling on the government to urgently adopt the National Action Plan to End Statelessness.

“This plan will give the country the framework for the identification, prevention and eradication of statelessness,” Kapaya said.

She said that without access to legal rights and often unable to access essential services, many stateless people are politically and economically marginalised, discriminated against and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

She noted that in many countries, stateless people, including stateless refugees, live in sub-standard and inadequate sanitary conditions which can increase the risk of disease.

“The risk of statelessness is very real in Nigeria and in the aftermath of the COVID-19, more than ever.

“There is the need for action to ensure that those unable to prove entitlement to citizenship, and thus placed at risk of statelessness, are not excluded from access to basic services like health, education

“Protection through the actions set out in the draft National Plan of Action,” the UNHCR representative said.

She explained that some governments have made birth registration and other forms of civil documentation an essential service, maintaining operations despite the pandemic, helping to prevent new cases of statelessness arising.

“In Nigeria, 295,370 internally displaced people in the North East were supported to access birth registration, indigene certificates and the national identity enrolment through the UNHCR Access to Justice Project between 2018 and June 2020,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that although there is difficulty in obtaining data, about 4.2 million people are reported to be stateless worldwide, a number which the UNHCR believes to be far less than actual. (NAN)

– Nov. 11, 2020 @ 17:12 GMT |

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