Minority Stories: Statelessness: Sub-Saharan Africa

Published: 24/Oct/2017
Source: Minority Rights Group

The communities within Africa most at risk of statelessness are similar to those in other continents: the descendants of people who migrated to the country before independence; ethnic groups whose pre-colonial boundaries cross modern borders, including the many millions of Africans following a nomadic way of life; those affected by the creation of new states in Africa since the departure of the European colonial powers or by transfers of territory in the resolution of border disputes; and more recent migrants and refugees (and especially their children), who lack any documentary evidence of their connection to a state of origin.

As elsewhere, the severity of the risk of statelessness also depends on many other factors, including proof of connection to another state through birth registration or other means, as well as accidents of birth, marriage, access to education, connections and money. Both indirect administrative factors, such as the very high levels of unregistered births in many African countries, affecting in particular the poorest and most marginalized communities, as well as direct discrimination along ethnic lines, can put some minority communities at greater risk.

Among those most vulnerable to statelessness are members of minorities who are descendants of people who migrated, or were forced to move, during the colonial period when administrative borders among territories of one colonial power were open. These groups include those whose ancestors came from outside the continent (from Europe, Asia or the Middle East), such as the ‘Lebanese’ of West Africa and ‘Asians’ of East Africa, who travelled to Africa as traders or, in the case of those from South Asia, as indentured labour on colonial plantations or for railway construction.

Read further: http://stories.minorityrights.org/statelessness/chapter/sub-saharan-africa/

Read global overview: http://stories.minorityrights.org/statelessness/home/

Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, Statelessness
Regions: International, Pan Africa
Year: 2017