UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness Update Jan-Mar 2021

Published: 19/Apr/2021
Source: UNHCR

Extracts relevant to Africa:

Mobilizing governments and civil society

Following a 2020 petition for the recognition of the stateless Pemba as Kenyan nationals hearings were held, in February and March 2021, by the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and National Security to gather historical information on the stateless Pemba population and their presence in Kenya. The Committee has now requested UNHCR and the Kenyan Human Rights Commission to support the compilation of a community register. This will be presented to the Committee and the National Task Force on the Identification and Registration of Stateless Persons, which will support efforts to address their statelessness.

In January, UNHCR and the Executive Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) commenced a study on displacement, statelessness and solutions in the East and Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. The study will assess the risk of statelessness among protracted refugee populations and explore their prospects for durable solutions. The findings and recommendations will contribute to the development of a comprehensive strategy for displaced persons and support implementation of the Consolidated Action Plan on the Eradication of Statelessness in the Great Lakes region. The study is in line with pledges made by the ICGLR Secretariat and individual member States at the 2019 High Level Segment on Statelessness and the Global Refugee Forum.

From September to December 2020, UNHCR and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child conducted a pilot learning course on the eradication of childhood statelessness in the East and Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. The course was designed to reinforce the engagement of civil society actors and national human rights institutions in efforts to prevent and resolve childhood statelessness.

On 10 February, in South Africa, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) published an open letter to the President calling for an inclusive approach to the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and the avoidance of discrimination against undocumented persons and stateless persons. The Southern African Nationality Network, together with LHR, also called on member States of the Southern African Development Community to include stateless persons in COVID-19 vaccine plans, highlighting the vulnerability and risk of exclusion of such persons.

On 17 February, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and Save the Children South Africa, with the support of Inter News, co-hosted a training for community journalists on the causes and consequences of statelessness. In March, LHR co-hosted a workshop with the South African Judicial Education Institution on the role that the Children’s Court can play to eradicate childhood statelessness. Over 140 magistrates from across South Africa participated.

On 9 March, UNHCR and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) conducted a parliamentary briefing on statelessness in South Africa before the Home Affairs Ministry. UNHCR and LHR made recommendations on accession to the UN Statelessness Conventions; access to citizenship and birth registration; the development of a National Action Plan; and the establishment of a statelessness determination procedure.

UNHCR, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Republic of Congo hosted two training sessions to raise awareness of statelessness. A two-day event accommodated 50 law students in Brazzaville in February while an event in March urged 60 local journalists to mobilize in support of the eradication of statelessness in the country.

Implementation of the Global Action Plan

In line with Action 6, Grant protection status to stateless migrants and facilitate their naturalization, on 23 February, the Minister of Justice of Côte d’Ivoire formally installed members of the statelessness status determination commissions (first instance and appeal commissions) following the adoption of a Statelessness Determination Procedure (SDP) in September 2020. The ceremony also marked the 6th Anniversary of the Abidjan Declaration of ECOWAS Member States against statelessness in West Africa and was attended by UNHCR, the UN Resident Coordinator and members of the diplomatic community. The event received considerable news coverage, including by Radio France Internationale. Further steps in establishing the SDP were made on 11 and 12 March, when Standard Operating Procedures were validated at a workshop organized by UNHCR and the Directorate for Aid and Assistance to Refugees and Stateless Persons.

On 8 March, the Department of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo launched an awareness campaign on birth registration and prevention of statelessness. The campaign is supported by twenty community-based volunteers trained by UNHCR. The campaign aims to sensitize 40,000 households and expand to other departments in April 2021.

In line with Action 8, Issue nationality documentation to those with entitlement to it, in February, the Government of Namibia announced plans to grant nationality and issue nationality documentation to stateless persons, persons with undetermined nationality and migrants who arrived in Namibia prior to independence.

Download full report: https://www.refworld.org/docid/607852747.html

Regions: Republic of Congo, Kenya, International, Pan Africa, Namibia, South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire
Year: 2021